The New York Times editorial board published an editorial yesterday suggesting it might be time for the United States to send aid to the Syrian moderates in light of the gains made by the better-equipped Islamist and Qaeda-linked rebel groups: "There is a danger that American aid could backfire, as it did in the 1980s when support for Mujahedeen fighters battling the Soviets helped to create fertile ground for terrorist movements years later. But the risk may be worth it. Syrian extremists are already trying to recruit and train Americans and other Westerners to carry out attacks in the United States, senior American officials say."
Nearly three years before he revealed himself as the source of leaked documents about NSA surveillance, Edward Snowden traveled to New Delhi, India. There, he spent six days taking courses in computer hacking and programming at a local professional school, according to school officials and people familiar with Snowden's trip. Working with a private instructor, Snowden, who was then a contractor for the spy agency, took a course in "ethical hacking," where he learned advanced techniques for breaking into computer systems and exploiting flaws in software. The class's ostensible purpose is to train students to protect computers and their contents from thieves and spies. But in order to do that, they learn how to break into computers and steal information. Snowden also inquired about methods to reverse-engineer the world's most popular kits for committing widespread online crime. Snowden didn't disclose his India trip to investigators when renewing his top-secret security clearance the following year. It was that clearance, NSA officials say, that gave Snowden access to the 1.7 million classified files he later stole from the agency's computer networks and databases. U.S. intelligence officials have faulted the company that conducted Snowden's background check for not more thoroughly questioning him about overseas travel and what foreign nationals he may have met with, which is standard procedure for detecting whether someone is spying for a foreign power. They have characterized the background check as flawed and incomplete.