June 21, 2013
As the private firm that vetted Edward Snowden in 2011 for the U.S. faces a criminal investigation, it looks like Booz Allen Hamilton hired the PRISM leaker despite noticing some discrepancies in his resumé. That's according to a scoop by Reuters, citing anonymous sources. The development indicates that pretty much everyone responsible for screening the former employee of the NSA contractor is facing fine-toothed scrutiny after a series of disclosures revealing some of the depth of the government's data collection programs.
Reuters has few details on what exactly raised questions about Snowden, and how those questions were answered, presumably by Snowden himself. He'd previously gotten security clearance after a USIS investigation — they're a private firm hired by the U.S. to do background checks. Snowden had top-secret clearance. As Reuters notes, Snowden was just one of 480,000 contractors with that clearance level, so the U.S. is probably looking for a way to avoid a repeat performance. On Thursday, the Senate held a hearing to look at how the government evaluates whether an employee or contractor is fit to handle confidential information. Sen. Claire McCaskill indicated that USIS “is under active criminal investigation,” but didn't specify whether it related specifically to Snowden's case, or predated it.
Meanwhile, there's been a development in Snowden's plan to avoid extradition, maybe: An Icelandic businessman offered to fly the whistleblower to his country in a private jet, should Iceland guarantee Snowden asylum. Previously, Wikileaks had pledged to help Snowden accomplish the same mission. According to Reuters, the private jet-sending businessman runs a company that processed payments for Wikileaks back when other institutions cut off their access to donations.
June 21, 2013