Snowden's Background Check Found to be Inadequate

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Wednesday, 28 Aug 2013 11:46 AM

By Lisa Barron

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A review of the 2011 background check on former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden has found that the security investigation into his affairs was seriously inadequate and should have detected potential issues.

National Counterintelligence Executive Frank Montoya, who led the review, said the security check by a private contractor "did not present a comprehensive picture of Mr. Snowden," reports The Wall Street Journal, which obtained a copy of the review documents.

The review found that the US Investigations Services (USIS) of Falls Church, Va., the largest security background check firm working for the federal government, did not verify Snowden's account of a past security violation and his work for the CIA. The review also criticized the firm for not looking thoroughly at a trip to India Snowden failed to report, and for not interviewing or seeking enough information from anyone other than his mother and girlfriend, the Journal reported.

Overall, the review concluded that the security check run on Snowden "did not meet the requirements" of a 1997 document outlining federal guidelines on routine background checks.

After the background check was completed, Snowden's high-level security clearance was renewed, giving him access through his job at Booz Allen Hamilton to classified documents about the government's secret surveillance programs. Snowden later took information he collected on the programs and passed it on to at least two reporters, who wrote stories revealing the existence of the NSA's phone and Internet data collection programs.

Concerns about Snowden's security check and clearance were first raised by Patrick McFarland, the inspector general for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, at a Senate hearing in June, where he suggested that USIS did not conduct a thorough or proper investigation into Snowden's background.

Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill also revealed at a hearing that same month that USIS is under federal investigation itself for what she called the company’s “systemic failure to adequately conduct investigations.”

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