Without calling out anyone in particular, I've seen A LOT of instances over the last few days, both in diaries and in comments, along the lines of this: 'How can this Snowden guy have even gotten his job with the NSA/Booz Allen/wherever when he only has a GED!!>>!??!!!
Because he had useable, high-demand skills that were applicable to both of those organization and in such need that he could command such a notable salary.
Your education, be it dropout of high school, a GED, diploma, Associates, Bachelors, or graduate degree does not guarantee you a job. You have to be able to take your degree, your skills, your personal abilities to function in the professional workplace and your connections and sell it to an organization (be it the gov, nonprofit or private entity) that you're valuable and can help them achieve their goals.
Snowden did that with two different organizations. Good for him.
Being good with developing/computers in general is a high-demand skill right now, and I know several talented developers that don't even have a Computer Science degree making tons of money right now, with their pick of a next destination if they tire of the work or the company they work for.
It's no different than being a master tradesman who has personal talent and learned through experience and training.
These people are not CEO's or board chairs fleecing society for billions a year...they're highly-specialized professionals who do not deserve your jealous scorn simply because they're really good at a highly-specialized, high-demand trade.
That is all.
7:55 AM PT: First commenter pointed to the Security Clearance helping quite a bit too, which is absolutely true.