snowden

Edward Snowden surprised a lot of people today when he revealed himself as the source of the NSA PRISM leaks, and few are more surprised than his employer, technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.

The company released a statement in response to the news today, confirming that Snowden had been an employee for less than three months and was on assignment in Hawaii:

News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm. We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.

Based in Virginia, Booz Allen Hamilton is one of the largest, oldest security contracting firms in the U.S. and has deep ties to agencies like the NSA, CIA, and FBI. (Current director of national intelligence James Clapper, for example, is a former Booz Allen executive.)

The company’s services to the intelligence world are both extensive and vital. Not only does it help train intelligence officials, but it also helps agencies “process, interpret, and use massive data stores in weeks or months,” as its website explains.

PRISMThis is where Snowden comes in. As he explained in his interview with The Guardian, the whistleblower had what sounds like unrestricted access to a lot of information with minimal oversight.

“Sitting at my desk I certainly had the authority to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant or a federal judge or even the president if I had a personal email,” he said.

The problem, as Booz Allen Hamilton itself confirmed, is that Snowden had all that authority in spite of  being an employee for only a few months. For a company with such strong ties to the intelligence community, that seems like a major oversight.

The big question, of course, is how all of this will affect Booz Allen’s bottom line. With a $2.45 billion market capitalization, the company certainly won’t go anywhere overnight, but the Snowden controversy will clearly open up a lot of inquires into how Booz Allen adds people to its staff of 25,000 workers.