WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor for the National Security Agency, found possible discrepancies in a resume submitted by Edward Snowden, but the company still employed him, a source with detailed knowledge of the matter said yesterday.
Snowden, who disclosed top secret documents about U.S. surveillance of telephone and Internet data after leaving his job as a systems administrator at an NSA facility in Hawaii, was hired this spring after he convinced his screeners that his description of his education was truthful, said the source, who is not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.
It is unclear precisely which element of Snowden’s resume caused personnel officials at Booz Allen Hamilton to raise questions about his background. Also unclear is how he satisfied their concerns.
Snowden’s disclosures, which U.S. intelligence officials have called harmful to national security, have raised questions about the U.S. government’s use of more than 480,000 contract workers who have top-secret security clearances. They also have increased concerns about how rigorously the government and its contractors are screening such workers.
Those concerns were the focus of a Senate subcommittee hearing on Thursday, as senators grilled representatives of the U.S. government’s personnel office over how closely contractors scrutinize prospective workers for high-security jobs.
Testimony at the hearing suggested that Booz Allen Hamilton might not have been the only one to have missed warning signals about Snowden’s background.
Before he was hired by Booz Allen Hamilton, Snowden also was screened by USIS, a Virginia-based investigations firm hired separately by the U.S. government to conduct background checks on prospective employees and contractors. Based on reports from firms such as USIS, the NSA decides whether a potential contract worker gets a security clearance.
During the hearing, Senator John Tester of Montana asked U.S. government personnel officials whether they had “any concerns that Mr. Snowden’s background investigation by USIS … may not have been carried out in an appropriate or thorough manner.”