Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden gained access to some of the secret agency documents he leaked to the media earlier this year by borrowing the identities of top NSA officials, NBC News reported Thursday.
An anonymous intelligence official told NBC News that the NSA's forensic investigation has already identified multiple instances where Snowden accessed some documents on the NSA's intranet, NSAnet, by borrowing other employees' user profiles.
Snowden, as a system administrator, had the ability to create and modify user profiles on NSAnet in addition to accessing the intranet using those profiles, according to intelligence officials. He accessed the most sensitive documents by borrowing the user profiles of employees with higher level security clearances than his own "top secret" clearance.
“Every day, they are learning how brilliant [Snowden] was,” a former U.S. official with knowledge of the case told NBC News. “This is why you don’t hire brilliant people for jobs like this. You hire smart people. Brilliant people get you in trouble.”