Justice Dept accuses firm that cleared Snowden of faking 665,000 background checks

posted at 12:41 pm on January 23, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Doesn’t this just give us all a warm fuzzy about national security?

As Edward Snowden prepares to defend himself in a worldwide webinar Thursday, the Justice Department is accusing the private contractor that vetted him and thousands of other intelligence workers of bilking U.S. taxpayers out of tens of millions of dollars by conducting phony background checks.

USIS, the giant private contractor that conducted the background checks of both Snowden and Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis, is accused in a Justice Department lawsuit filed Wednesday night of conducting 665,000 fake background checks between 2008 and 2012.

“USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company’s revenues and profits,” said the Justice Department in its complaint, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Alabama.

According to the indictment, 40% of all background check reports from USIS were fraudulent. First big surprise: We’ve either replaced or added more than 1.66 million people in the federal government who need security clearances over the four-plus years of this date range (March 2008 to September 2012). Why? That sounds like we have a pretty bad turnover problem, or have expanded classified access (and activities) significantly in that period, even though we were already dialing down the war in Iraq at the beginning of that period.

Second: The government apparently never thought to spot-check performance of the contractor who determined who got access to our nation’s most sensitive information.  The DoJ searched their e-mail and found plenty of indications of fraud; employees bragged about “dumping” or “flushing” cases so that they could clear their desks. USIS even had a computer program to assist in the effort called Blue Zone. It’s been more than 25 years since I worked for a government contractor, but I recall a much more robust effort in place to audit workplaces and make sure work was (a) getting done, and (b) charged properly. Even routine spot checks should have found some fraud if it occurred in 40% of all cases — meaning we could have found out before Snowden took a powder and Ansari shot up the Washington Navy Yard.

Someone was asleep at the switch … most likely, several someones.

Finally, this leaves us with a big question: Who else has access to sensitive materials that poses a threat to our national security? If we had 665,000 background checks blown off, I’m guessing the answer is more than one or two. Assuming the DoJ can prove its case, some USIS executives had better be doing hard time soon, and the federal government had better get cracking on re-checking its employees hired or promoted during that period of time. And maybe Congress will want to look into why we needed so many background checks in that short period of time, too.


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Aw, they found the culprits.

Snowden exposed how stupid your Schumer/obama gov’t is, not to excuse the others.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Chuckie Schumer, your big gov’t is a waste, an utter waste of taxpayers’ dough.

The Teapartiers know this, Chuckie.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Someone was asleep at the switch … most likely, several someones.

Plus incompetence…PC will kill us all.

the federal government had better get cracking on re-checking its employees hired or promoted during that period of time.

“Cracking” is racist, beware :)

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:48 PM

First big surprise: We’ve either replaced or added more than 1.66 million people in the federal government who need security clearances over the four-plus years of this date range (March 2008 to September 2012). Why? That sounds like we have a pretty bad turnover problem, or have expanded classified access (and activities) significantly in that period, even though we were already dialing down the war in Iraq at the beginning of that period.

That or way too many political appointees requiring security clearances.

Steve Eggleston on January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM

To this Administration, it’s always someone else’s fault.

Well, except when the President steps up and says, ‘I got Bin Laden’…and takes credit for someone else’s hard work.

Athos on January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM

O.K., enough of this Sh*t, where’s the Thread
about BEIBER!!!!??

ToddPA on January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Assuming the DoJ can prove its case, some USIS executives had better be doing hard time soon

Not a chance. They were probably college roommates of Moose-chells.

climbnjump on January 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Meh, the gov’t is laden with utter morons.

Plus, the R/Ds like it this way. It covers up the big mess all of them are. I hate the Rs more than the Ds. They enable the latter, just for their good lives. None even detest being in the minority, so long as they rule the sheep, from DC.

Their lives are very good, yours are not secure and you get to pay. Work harder.

Thank you Mr. Snowden for exposing them. This is the best part of Mr. Snowden, that he exposed how stupid the US gov’t is, from pajama-obama on down.

Rogers is a big fool too. It’s scary how stupid the ones who’re supposed to be in charge of your security are.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:50 PM

Amazingly, I have no snark to add on this one.

Just…

#headdesk

Chris of Rights on January 23, 2014 at 12:51 PM

And, we might want to take a look at who should have been doing those ‘spot checks’ of USIS’s performance, too, and leveling charges against the federal employee’s responsible for failing to perform those performance checks.

Meanwhile…beyond those of that 665,000 who are security risks… how many of those 665,000 are simply not qualified to hold the position they now hold… are inept, bumbling, and incapable of performing the tasks assigned them… and getting paid handsomely for not being able to perform their job adequately?

We need a major performance review, an audit of personnel in the federal government, and we need to eliminate those who cannot perform their job efficiently and effectively.

thatsafactjack on January 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

We’ve either replaced or added more than 1.66 million people in the federal government who need security clearances over the four-plus years of this date range (March 2008 to September 2012).

um, No. For a TS you need a single scope background investigation (SSBI) which is good for 5 years. That means 20% of the people with a TS undergo an investigation every year.

for a Secret, it’s a computer file check called a NAC, which is good for 10 years, which means 10% etc.

For an SCI access, you are looking at a polygraph ever 1-2 years, but those are not done by USIS, but by agency examiners at (DIA, NSA, FBI, NGA, etc)

It’s been more than 25 years since I worked for a government contractor, but I recall a much more robust effort in place to audit workplaces and make sure work was (a) getting done, and (b) charged properly.

That was likely the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) and they still are death on timesheets and accounting…

the drill sgt on January 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Good thing we have a ginormous, unaccountable government.

besser tot als rot on January 23, 2014 at 12:53 PM

obama is a thug, who hires people to pay back…favors for votes, PC crap, and all that…Add his fascist sozi Utopian pipedream and you’ve got the perfect brew.

The US, who voted twice for him, deserves him in full.

The world, who cheered for him, deserve to be spied on and lied to, by their ‘darling’.

Yes, I am all for spying on them, just not on spying on the American people, which is unconstitutional/illegal.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Meanwhile…beyond those of that 665,000 who are security risks… how many of those 665,000 are simply not qualified to hold the position they now hold… are inept, bumbling, and incapable of performing the tasks assigned them… and getting paid handsomely for not being able to perform their job adequately?

We need a major performance review, an audit of personnel in the federal government, and we need to eliminate those who cannot perform their job efficiently and effectively.

thatsafactjack on January 23, 2014 at 12:52 PM

That would eliminate 90%, you racist, you :)

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:55 PM

Well, except when the President steps up and says, ‘I got Bin Laden’…and takes credit for someone else’s hard work.

Athos on January 23, 2014 at 12:49 PM

There is zero proof that he got Beenie.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Does any of this really matter when the guy on top (Obama) wouldn’t have been able to get security clearance?

besser tot als rot on January 23, 2014 at 12:56 PM

I don’t know why I’m surprised. One of Obama’s functionaries, Anita Dunne, bragged that her ‘favorite philospher’ was Mao Tse Tung, and just today I find that Michelle Obama’s role model is none other than Hanoi Jane .

thatsafactjack on January 23, 2014 at 12:57 PM

yo Chuck, what say you??

DanMan on January 23, 2014 at 12:58 PM

The reverend Wright is back in full good graces.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

btw, anybody hear anything out of Peter King lately?

DanMan on January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:55 PM

lol! I’m fine with that appellation if we can get rid of the moochers and looters actually getting paid to hold a position in our federal government. :)

thatsafactjack on January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

btw, anybody hear anything out of Peter King lately?

DanMan on January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

He’s stuck in a NY asylum and there’s too much snow…and de Blasio won’t have it ploughed :)

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I just had my 5 year clearance update to the level that Snowden had. I’ve had a TS/SCI clearance for over 30 years and my investigation still took four months. Investigators talked to every one of my references and then got references from my references. They also came into my neighborhood and spoke to ALL my neighbors. And they grilled me on my “foreign contacts” (my Irish relatives). You know. Ireland. The country that’s going to invade us any day. I also haven’t had a drink in close to 30 years, but because I used to imbibe, let us say, heavily, they had to sit back and think about that for awhile.

Not sure where I went “wrong,” but it appears from reading the story that I got the only investigators with integrity in the government!

Friends of mine from the Navy have gone through he!! jumping through the security hoops to get access to info that Snowden had. They had a harder time because of the location they were going to work. Everything else was the same as Snowden.

Having said that, the next Snowden, Pollard, Walker et al are sitting out there, ready to cash in on the gravy train that is a high level security clearance. It’s just a matter of time. Having companies that don’t do their job makes it easier, but it will happen whether they are out there screwing up or not.

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

The reverend Wright is back in full good graces.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 12:59 PM

And in what I’m sure is just a stunning coincidence: Obama Administration Worried Israel Is ‘Riling’ The Jews.

thatsafactjack on January 23, 2014 at 1:02 PM

The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity. This is something truly good, a gift from God. —Pope Francis

No, your holiness, quotes like these are the gift.

In this papal statement released Thursday, the pope throws his considerable influence behind the idea that social media, and the other tools of the Internet, can be one of the means to unite the world and perhaps rectify the gap between the rich and poor—an emerging theme of his papacy. “We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind,” he said.

It’s a refreshing message of Internet optimism during a time of mass cybercrime (i.e., the Target breach) and government eavesdropping. Depending on the news, the Internet can either seem to be a great democratizing force in the world or something creepier. But the pope would like to focus on what’s really the simplest idea driving the Web: human communication. And, in his view, the better humans can communicate with each other, the better off the world will be.

“The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity; a network not of wires but of people,” he stated. Although he did say the Web had a downside, in that it can sometimes isolate us from those who are physically close. But here’s his hope:

Our world suffers from many forms of exclusion, marginalization, and poverty, to say nothing of conflicts born of a combination of economic, political, ideological, and, sadly, even religious motives. In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family, which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all.

In writing this article, I’ve somewhat proved his point. By wittingly propagating a positive message—via the Internet.

Resnick is a fool. The pope will find out what the NSA has on him, sooner or later.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Is anyone surprised by this? Really!?

Getting the soldier ants in place is more important than mere security, to the Left.

OldEnglish on January 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

The investigators figured out you comment here and thus are a potential class enemy of the ObamiNation.

Steve Eggleston on January 23, 2014 at 1:06 PM

No real surprise. King Barack fakes running the country, USIS fakes background checks.

Isn’t the Democratic mantra, “Fake but accurate”?

GarandFan on January 23, 2014 at 1:13 PM

You know it’s stories like this that make me wonder if they are collecting our data. They don’t seem to be able to find the buttski with both hands. We are in trouble.

Cindy Munford on January 23, 2014 at 1:17 PM

This guy is not going to live much longer.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Who to believe in this?

Probably no one.

PappyD61 on January 23, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Investigators talked to every one of my references and then got references from my references. They also came into my neighborhood and spoke to ALL my neighbors. And they grilled me on my “foreign contacts” (my Irish relatives)

The references are pretty much only used to get pointers to the people you know but didn’t put down. Put down one next door neighbor but not the other? ask around…

But then you already know that.

the drill sgt on January 23, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Abortion is always wrong. Period.

dpduq on January 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Abortion is always wrong. Period.

dpduq on January 23, 2014 at 1:22 PM

LOL – sorry – wrong thread!!!

dpduq on January 23, 2014 at 1:23 PM

also haven’t had a drink in close to 30 years, but because I used to imbibe, let us say, heavily, they had to sit back and think about that for awhile.

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Well as long as you were drinking and not smoking the dreaded weed, I guess you qualified. Weren’t they talking about security clearances when they said “just say no”?

rhombus on January 23, 2014 at 1:24 PM

665,000 fake background checks

And that’s just for security clearances. How many background checks for regular government jobs are fraudulent?

How many fraudulent background checks have been conducted for
employees at TSA, the Justice Department, Homeland Security, the IRS ?

MichaelGabriel on January 23, 2014 at 1:25 PM

No real surprise. King Barack fakes running the country, USIS fakes background checks.

GarandFan on January 23, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Obamakin Village

BobMbx on January 23, 2014 at 1:32 PM

I dodged a bullet there; I had applied to work for USIS about a year and a half ago, and got as far as the first phone interview.

LibraryGryffon on January 23, 2014 at 1:41 PM

also haven’t had a drink in close to 30 years, but because I used to imbibe, let us say, heavily, they had to sit back and think about that for awhile.

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Over 20 years ago I admitted that I had friends who used MJ and perhaps even other stuff. My clearance update investigator had a good time with that – asked several times why I didn’t turn them in to the police. I told them if I turned in everyone I knew who smoked pot, I’d have almost no friends and I’d have to turn in most of my high school class. I just said I’m not in law enforcement so it’s not my job as long as none of those people had security clearances, and I don’t use any of that stuff myself – which is the relevant point for my clearance.

dentarthurdent on January 23, 2014 at 1:55 PM

All the Snowden haters need to explain why this mega-scandal only broke after Edward’s actions.

Christien on January 23, 2014 at 2:00 PM

The enemy within.

portlandon on January 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM

How much money did the company give to Obama and other various democrat politicians and PACs?

It has been nothing but spectacular incompetence since the world smartest man became the president. It’s almost like he is not very smart AND had no experience or something.

jukin3 on January 23, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Government Is Too Big!

Is this still a mystery to anyone who is paying attention? Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, John McCain, Karl Rove ARE YOU LISTENING?

The only answer to a ridiculous national debt, economy-damaging regulations & taxes, and a vast network of corruption and cronyism is a more limited federal government.

pilsener on January 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM

I just had my 5 year clearance update to the level that Snowden had. I’ve had a TS/SCI clearance for over 30 years and my investigation still took four months. Investigators talked to every one of my references and then got references from my references. They also came into my neighborhood and spoke to ALL my neighbors. And they grilled me on my “foreign contacts” (my Irish relatives). You know. Ireland. The country that’s going to invade us any day. I also haven’t had a drink in close to 30 years, but because I used to imbibe, let us say, heavily, they had to sit back and think about that for awhile.

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

Let’s remember a few things here.

1. Not all of those 665K clearances were for TS/SCI or higher.

2. The WNY shooter had a secret clearance and no paper trail whatsoever that would have flagged the request.

3. Your PR experience is exactly what you would expect for a TS/SCI. The shocker in Snowden’s case was that apparently the only people interviewed were his mom and stripper girlfriend.

Finally, as an aside, the answer to the drinking question is always “I drink socially.” Even if you’re a tea totaler, saying you don’t drink makes you a liar in the mind of the investigator. If you admit to drinking a couple of beers a night they’ll think that you’re downing a six pack every day. So…….say you drink socially.

Happy Nomad on January 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM

Is this still a mystery to anyone who is paying attention? Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, John McCain, Karl Rove ARE YOU LISTENING?

They’re listening alright….
…to the lobbyists on K Street.

MichaelGabriel on January 23, 2014 at 2:22 PM

TS/SCI clearance … Investigators … And they grilled me on my “foreign contacts” (my Irish relatives).

NavyMustang on January 23, 2014 at 1:01 PM

You think yours was tough: My wife is a Japanese National. Gulp.
I had to write a two-page document disclaiming my loyalty to her family and nation.

Tsar of Earth on January 23, 2014 at 2:24 PM

Quality, experienced, caring gubmint employees are retiring in droves.
To expect any quality work for years well….you see healthcare exchange wortlessosity.

losarkos on January 23, 2014 at 2:47 PM

This is the most important reason Snowden is a hero…unintentionally of course. He basically showed us our security sucked, and may have prevented something far worse from happening.

The fact that Snowden managed what he did can only tell us the Chinese and Russians have already accomplished far worse.

William Eaton on January 23, 2014 at 2:49 PM

The enemy within.

portlandon on January 23, 2014 at 2:10 PM

Or the incompetence within…remember Pearl Harbor…9/11…

It is not the first time.

William Eaton on January 23, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Justice Dept accuses firm that cleared Snowden of faking 665,000 background checks

665,000 faked background checks and they just recently figured it out? WTF !!! This has got to set a new high even for government incompetence.

VorDaj on January 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

We’ve either replaced or added more than 1.66 million people in the federal government who need security clearances over the four-plus years of this date range (March 2008 to September 2012). Why?

Most of these are likely re-investigations or upgrades in clearance. If you have a clearance above Secret, re-investigations are required every 5 years (occassionally more often). I am betting that a lot of positions that used to not handle classified are now handling it – over-classification of information is a constant problem, and it is probably worse now because of this administration (and new laws/regs).

GWB on January 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM

Defrauding the Government.
That could be costly in a non-Holder DoJ prosecution.

Another Drew on January 23, 2014 at 3:26 PM

How the NSA nearly killed the internet.

Schadenfreude on January 23, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Why? That sounds like we have a pretty bad turnover problem, or have expanded classified access (and activities) significantly in that period, even though we were already dialing down the war in Iraq at the beginning of that period.

Want to know why that happened? Well I will tell you. Everyone that could possibly come into contact with any Active, Reserve or National guards member’s Pay, Personnel or Medical records had to get a PII background check. They didn’t need a clearance, they just needed to have passed a background check that was not a requirement less than 10 years ago.

That is the reason for the increased background checks, it wasn’t an increase in access to classified material, just the Federal Government adding yet another layer of fluff to make the numbers look inflated and award yet even more dollars to B$ contractors in an effort to reward political donors.

Johnnyreb on January 23, 2014 at 3:36 PM

What was the relationship of USIS to certain important connected people in Washington, DC?

Viator on January 23, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Gimme a “D“,, Gimme an “N“, Gimme an “A“, as in like database.

(Still waiting on the hairbrush Ed)

WryTrvllr on January 23, 2014 at 5:33 PM

Damn, guess this means no more picnics to the missile silos in Cheyenne.

Good times. Good times.

WryTrvllr on January 23, 2014 at 5:36 PM

I feel so much safer now

J_Crater on January 23, 2014 at 6:26 PM