The Wall Street Journal has obtained a federal government report on the most recent background check of Edward Snowden by U.S. Investigations Services LLC, and the limited scope with which the company investigated Snowden’s history is startling.
The company’s botching of the background check has led the federal government to reduce its work with USIS. About two years after the 2011 investigation that the U.S. now calls “incomplete,” Snowden leaked a trove of National Security Agency secrets in what many officials have called the most damaging leak in U.S. history.
Some key details of the investigation:
- USIS only spoke with Snowden’s mother and then-girlfriend as his references.
- USIS did not run an independent check of an unspecified security violation in Snowden’s file.
- Snowden was unable to provide references for his time at the CIA from 2006-09. He said he was unable to provide references or verify his employment at the CIA because it was classified, but there was no independent attempt made to verify those claims. The New York Times has reported that Snowden’s CIA supervisor suspected before he left in 2009 that he was trying to break into classified documents.
- USIS was supposed to interview two neighbours in the vicinity of his most recent residence of six months or more, which at that point was Japan. They did not interview any neighbours, and Snowden said only his girlfriend could verify his residence in Japan because his assignment had been classified.
When Snowden’s leaks first exploded onto the scene, there were questions about how he was able to gain “top secret” clearance. Snowden’s background check appears much less thorough than those other former government employees have described.
You can read the government’s full report on Snowden’s background check here.
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