Snowden said he voted for a third party in 2008, though he did not specify which third party he voted for -- the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and others ran candidates that year -- and had been wanting to be a whistleblower since before Obama was elected, but held off in hopes surveillance policies would change more than they have under the Democratic president.
"A lot of people in 2008 voted for Obama. I did not vote for him. I voted
for a third party. But I believed in Obama's promises. I was going to
disclose it [but waited because of his election]. He continued with the
policies of his predecessor," Snowden said in an interview The Guardian posted online.
* Update: The first version of The Guardian piece described Snowden as a high-school dropout, which raised a lot of eyebrows as the U.S. Army does not take people without either a high-school diploma or a General Equivalency Diploma, with very rare exceptions. The paper later clarified that he holds a GED.
Update 2: Booz Allen Hamilton has issued a statement on Snowden stating that he was a new employee of the firm:
Booz Allen can confirm that Edward Snowden, 29, has been an employee of
our firm for less than 3 months, assigned to a team 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.
Snowden said he left America for Hong Kong on May 20, 2013 -- making him an even shorter term employee at Booz Allen -- because "they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent."
According to Freedom House, "In recent years, Beijing's influence over the news, publishing, and film
industries [in Hong Kong] has increased, prompting greater restraint on issues deemed
sensitive by the Chinese central government."
Hong Kong signed an extradition treaty with the United States in 1997.
TPM's Josh Marshall spells out what he sees as the implications: Snowden "seems to be hoping to evade the criminal consequences by
defecting to China, a key US rival and one that comes up rather short of
being the kind of libertarian and transparent society Snowden
apparently believes in.... of all the places where you might have a shot at not getting
extradited, China's not a bad choice. Hong Kong might even give you the
best of both worlds, hosted by repressive government which is a US
rival and yet living in a city with Western standards of openness,
But the decision to go to China inevitably colors his decision and
sets up what could be a very uncomfortable diplomatic stand-off.... the Chinese might relish granting asylum to an American running from the claws of US 'state repression.'"