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IG: Snowden's background check may have been faulty

Jun. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By STEPHEN LOSEY   |   Comments
Edward Snowden was fired from his job as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor after revealing classified National Security Agency programs.
Edward Snowden was fired from his job as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor after revealing classified National Security Agency programs. (AFP / The Guardian)

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The 2011 reinvestigation of Edward Snowden’s background check may have been faulty, Office of Personnel Management Inspector General Patrick McFarland said Thursday. Snowden is a former National Security Agency contract employee who leaked details of a top-secret spying program at NSA.

“We do believe that there may be some problems” with the reinvestigation, McFarland said when Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., asked him if he had concerns about whether Snowden’s reinvestigation may not have been carried out in an appropriate or thorough manner. McFarland was testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on the federal workforce, which Tester chairs.

McFarland said that U.S. Investigative Services, a company that handles 45 percent of the federal government’s contracted background checks, conducted the 2011 reinvestigation into Snowden. Later that year, McFarland’s office began investigating USIS for contract fraud. That investigation is still ongoing.

In a statement, USIS said it received a subpoena for records from McFarland’s office in January 2012, with which it complied. USIS said it has cooperated fully with the government’s civil investigation, but said it has not been told it is under criminal investigation.

USIS would not confirm or deny whether it had conducted any investigations into Snowden, and said those investigations are confidential.

McFarland told the subcommittee that 18 background investigators and record searchers — 11 federal employees and seven contractors — have been convicted for falsifying background investigation reports since the IG began investigating so-called “fabrication cases” in 2006. The abuses included interviews that never occurred, answers to questions that were never asked, and record checks that were never conducted, McFarland said.

A 19th investigator pled guilty last month, McFarland said, and a 20th is expected to plead guilty this week. Both investigators are contractors, he said.

Snowden was fired from his job as a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor after revealing NSA programs that collect private online communications from companies such as Microsoft, Facebook and Google, and phone records and metadata from Verizon.

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