Edward Snowden, arguably the world’s most famous whistle-blower, is a man who lived behind plenty of pseudonyms before putting his true name to his truth-telling: When he was first communicating with the journalists who would reveal his top-secret NSA leaks, he used the names Citizenfour, Cincinnatus, and Verax—Latin for “truthful” and a knowing allusion to Julian Assange’s old hacker handle Mendax, the teller of lies.
But in his newly published memoir and manifesto, Permanent Record, Snowden describes other handles, albeit long-defunct ones: Shrike the Knight, Corwin the Bard, Belgarion the Smith, squ33ker the precocious kid asking amateur questions about chip compatibility on an early bulletin-board service. These were online videogame and forum personas, he writes, that as a teenager in the 1990s he’d acquire and jettison like T-shirts, assuming new identities on a whim, often to leave behind mistakes or embarrassing ideas he’d tried out in online conversations. Sometimes, he notes, he’d even use his new identity to attack his prior self, the better to disavow the ignoramus he’d been the week before. READ MORE: