GO
Loading...

Snowden 'just an aberration': Booz Allen CEO

Former security contractor Edward Snowden did not hurt business at the defense contractor where he collected the domestic surveillance secrets he leaked to several media outlets, setting off a global uproar over digital privacy, Booz Allen Hamilton's CEO told CNBC on Thursday.

"Actually it hasn't been as tough as one might imagine," CEO Ralph Shrader said on "Squawk on the Street." "Edward Snowden was a 10-week interval in a 100-year history of our firm. Our firm is much stronger than that. He doesn't represent us. He was just an aberration."

National Security Agency building in Fort Meade, Md.
AP
National Security Agency building in Fort Meade, Md.

Shrader's comments came a day after The New York Times published an editorial asking the U.S. government to grant Snowden clemency and treat him as a whistle-blower. Several months ago, Snowden leaked droves of confidential documents to The Guardian and other media outlets that called into question the legality of the NSA's massive data collection operations.

(Read more: ACLU sues US govt over surveillance program)

Snowden faces a possible life sentence if he returns to U.S. from his exile in Russia. Shrader wouldn't discuss how authorities should treat Snowden if he returns to U.S. soil.

(Read more: Judge says NSA phone data program is lawful)

"It's up to others to have that debate," Shrader said. "The whole discussion and issue around privacy is an issue that's a healthy debate around the country. I'm quite willing to hear that debate as it plays out. I think others need to make the decision about what's the best approach to take toward him going forward."

(Read more: Was 2013 the year of the hacker?)

Shrader told CNBC a more pressing concern remains defense spending cuts from heated budget negotiations in Washington. Booz Allen Hamilton generates a huge amount of its profits from government contracts.

"Clients don't know exactly what they're going to have to spend," Shrader said. "They don't know what their budgets are going to be. They don't know how things are actually going to play out."

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."