CIA flagged Snowden as a security risk — in 2009

posted at 2:01 pm on October 11, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

With all of the shutdown follies in Washington gaining most of our attention today, this surprise from the New York Times might be easy to miss — but it shouldn’t go unnoticed.  The CIA sent Edward Snowden home in 2009 from an assignment in Geneva after they suspected him of attempting to hack a computer outside of his classification.  That raises even more questions about his ability to gain clearances as a contractor:

Just as Edward J. Snowden was preparing to leave Geneva and a job as a C.I.A. technician in 2009, his supervisor wrote a derogatory report in his personnel file, noting a distinct change in the young man’s behavior and work habits, as well as a troubling suspicion.

The C.I.A. suspected that Mr. Snowden was trying to break into classified computer files to which he was not authorized to have access, and decided to send him home, according to two senior American officials.

But the red flags went unheeded. Mr. Snowden left the C.I.A. to become a contractor for the National Security Agency, and four years later he leaked thousands of classified documents. The supervisor’s cautionary note and the C.I.A.’s suspicions apparently were not forwarded to the N.S.A. or its contractors, and surfaced only after federal investigators began scrutinizing Mr. Snowden’s record once the documents began spilling out, intelligence and law enforcement officials said.

“It slipped through the cracks,” one veteran law enforcement official said of the report.

It’s one thing to miss a derogatory piece of information out in the rest of the world during a background check.  How does a derogatory report inside the intelligence community get lost when granting a high-level clearance? Eric Schmitt reports that the earlier incident nearly mirrors what Snowden later successfully managed to do, penetrate the data systems to access and steal highly-classified material.  Surely that should have been enough to deny anyone a clearance for further work.

Instead, Snowden shifted jobs to contract for the NSA, where the data would be even more sensitive.  Part of his value to those contracting firms was his clearance, which should have been suspended with the suspicions raised by his CIA superiors. People are not entitled to security clearances, after all — they are granted by the government when they determine that the applicant can be trusted, and can be suspended and/or revoked for any instance where that trustworthiness comes into question.

Amazingly, this bug turns out to be not a one-off error, but a rather wide-open hole:

In hindsight, officials said, the report by the C.I.A. supervisor and the agency’s suspicions might have been the first serious warnings of the disclosures to come, and the biggest missed opportunity to review Mr. Snowden’s top-secret clearance or at least put his future work at the N.S.A. under much greater scrutiny.

“The weakness of the system was if derogatory information came in, he could still keep his security clearance and move to another job, and the information wasn’t passed on,” said a Republican lawmaker who has been briefed on Mr. Snowden’s activities.

How many other Snowdens have figured this out?  And how many of them are just disgruntled, or are actively working for foreign powers?  When Congress gets back to business, this should be a high priority in their agenda.


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Ruh roh

cmsinaz on October 11, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Entire story is BS.

bgibbs1000 on October 11, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Meanwhile

Schadenfreude on October 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM

“It slipped through the cracks,”

Like the Boston bombers?

Like the 9-year-old that slipped past TSA?

The government inspires so much confidence.

Bitter Clinger on October 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Whatever Snowden also is, he is the hero of the free world.

Schadenfreude on October 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

He put down on his application that he’s a transgender minority with AIDS. He was almost awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after being hired.

mankai on October 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Bitter Clinger on October 11, 2013 at 2:10 PM

Or that guy at the Naval Shipyards.

Oil Can on October 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM

The US of Zimbabwe, with her own Mugabe, is now full of lice.

Off topic you say…nah, it’s all on topic. It’s indicative of the status of the land. These things always are.

Schadenfreude on October 11, 2013 at 2:12 PM

‘It slipped through the cracks.’

Weird, that’s the same excuse that they used for the Brothers Tsarnaev.

Resist We Much on October 11, 2013 at 2:13 PM

He put down on his application that he’s a transgender minority with AIDS. He was almost awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after being hired.

mankai on October 11, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Excellent. PC will, as it should, kill all. I only hope that the heads of its promoters will fall first.

Schadenfreude on October 11, 2013 at 2:13 PM

As I said in the headline thread…

This is the “See we need to spy on everyone” defense. I can see it now, the talking points will be if the government would have been watching his every move then the world wouldn’t know that government is watching everyone’s every move.

MobileVideoEngineer on October 11, 2013 at 2:16 PM

Meanwhile,
the thug in SpiteHouse strikes against his sworn enemies , again :

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2013/10/cruel-arlington-memorial-removes-pictures-and-mementos-left-by-families-at-fallen-soldiers-grave-sites/

burrata on October 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Meanwhile,
the thug in SpiteHouse strikes against his sworn enemies , again :

http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2013/10/cruel-arlington-memorial-removes-pictures-and-mementos-left-by-families-at-fallen-soldiers-grave-sites/

burrata on October 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM

Disgusting.

Bitter Clinger on October 11, 2013 at 2:30 PM

The CIA just reported they think someone is going to bomb the World Trade Center

cartooner on October 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

2009? I BLAME GEORGE W. BUSH!
PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS MERELY CONTINUING THE POLICIES OF HIS PREDECESSOR, SO IT’S BUSH’S FAULT!

Oh, wait…

- libs/proggies

Marcola on October 11, 2013 at 2:41 PM

“It slipped through the cracks,”

Like the Boston bombers?

Like the 9-year-old that slipped past TSA?

The government inspires so much confidence.

I can hardly wait until they’re in charge of health care.

GarandFan on October 11, 2013 at 2:53 PM

McLean Youth Lacrosse fights government shutdown in court AND WINS; Langley Fork Park reopens

Fed up that the federal shutdown was keeping them off their practice fields, a group of young lacrosse players in Northern Virginia challenged the government in court. And at least for now, they won.

Resist We Much on October 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

Apparently our security apparatus is so full of “cracks” it doesn’t even hold water.

RebeccaH on October 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

He listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a reference.

His app was rushed through.

mankai on October 11, 2013 at 5:20 PM

This is just idiocy.

disa on October 11, 2013 at 6:06 PM