The Leaker, the Dancer & the Neighborly Truth: Inside a Snowden Scavenger Hunt

Now that Edward Snowden is on the lam, location unknown, the curious have tracked down the NSA whistleblower's family, friends, and (possible) girlfriend to learn more.

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Now that Edward Snowden is on the lam, exact location unknown, the curious have tracked down the NSA whistleblower's family, friends, and (possible) girlfriend to learn more. In the case of the latter, onlookers also seem interested in ogling photos of the acrobat and dancer rumored to be the woman Snowden left last month.

While the frame of Snowden's biography is now pretty visible — grew up in Maryland, high school drop out, lived in Hawaii, fled his home (and his girlfriend) at the beginning of May for Hong Kong — no one has, perhaps, read quite as much into the details as David Brooks, whose New York Times column posted late Monday seems to imply that Snowden is the worst-case-scenario for those disengaged, dangerous Millennials:

"He could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college. According to The Washington Post, he has not been a regular presence around his mother’s house for years. When a neighbor in Hawaii tried to introduce himself, Snowden cut him off and made it clear he wanted no neighborly relationships. He went to work for Booz Allen Hamilton and the C.I.A., but he has separated himself from them, too."

"He is making everything worse," the columnist concludes, because "he betrayed his oaths." Brooks isn't alone in jumping head-first into the character war, either: as we noted earlier, Jeffrey Toobin already thinks Snowden is a "grandiose narcissist." Meanwhile, others are doing their best to make the whistleblower look as unlikeable as possible.

Despite the sweeping conclusions, there's not a lot to go on. We've got Snowden's interview with the Guardian. We know he worked for Dell, and for Booz Allen (for a short time). He didn't finish high school, and was only in the military for a short time, too. We know, via a New York Times profile out late Monday, that Snowden used a Rubik's Cube to signal to his media contacts that it was OK to talk. But he didn't have a public online presence (surprise!) so there's not a ton in the public domain to troll for clues. His neighbors don't know much about him, either, though they're talking:

Meanwhile, Inside Edition thinks they've located Snowden's girlfriend: Lindsay Mills, a graduate of Maryland College of Art who performs as an acrobat and dancer in Hawaii.

Photo: Lsjourney

Buzzfeed dug up her personal blog, where the most recent update (dated Monday) reads as follows:

For those of you that know me without my super hero cape, you can probably understand why I’ll be refraining from blog posts for awhile. My world has opened and closed all at once. Leaving me lost at sea without a compass. Surely there will be villainous pirates, distracting mermaids, and tides of change in this new open water chapter of my journey. But at the moment all I can feel is alone. And for the first time in my life I feel strong enough to be on my own. Though I never imagined my hand would be so forced. As I type this on my tear-streaked keyboard I’m reflecting on all the faces that have graced my path. The ones I laughed with. The ones I’ve held. The one I’ve grown to love the most. And the ones I never got to bid adieu. But sometimes life doesn’t afford proper goodbyes. In those unsure endings I find my strength, my true friends, and my heart’s song. A song that I thought had all but died away, when really it was softly singing all along. I don’t know what will happen from here. I don’t know how to feel normal. But I do know that I am loved, by myself and those around me. And no matter where my compass-less vessel will take me, that love will keep me buoyant.

Her Twitter account's latest message shows a similar anxiety:

Also in her most recent post, Mills includes a video of a recent dance, called "Fish out of Water":

Buzzfeed flagged a photo of Mills with her boyfriend, only referred to as "E": 

Photo: Lsjourney

The possibility that Mills is Snowden's girlfriend has caught on. And that's understandable — if it's true, it'd be quite possibly the most revealing personal detail about the 29-year-old behind the extraordinary leak of NSA practice. And while the "hero" or "villain" debate surrounding a figure like Snowden is inevitable, here's hoping that with the scavenger hunt comes even more discussion of the actual information he made public. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.