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Contractor that vetted Snowden did Navy Yard shooter background check

Contractor that vetted Snowden did Navy Yard shooter background check

Bloomberg News is reporting tonight that the same contractor that vetted NSA leaker Edward Snowden also did the background check on Aaron Alexis.

The U.S. government contractor that vetted Edward Snowden, who leaked information about national surveillance programs, said it also performed a background check on the Washington Navy Yard shooter.

USIS, a unit of Falls Church, Virginia-based Altegrity Inc., did Aaron Alexis’s background investigation in 2007, Ray Howell, a USIS spokesman, said in an e-mail.

“Today we were informed that in 2007, USIS conducted a background check of Aaron Alexis” for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Howell said.

USIS came under scrutiny in June after an inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management testified for a Senate hearing that there may have been problems with the security clearance background check that was conducted on Edward Snowden.

USIS earlier defended its work in the case of Snowden, saying that it was the government’s responsibility to approve or deny Snowden’s clearance, according to an August Wall Street Journal report.

USIS declined to discuss the federal review on Tuesday. But it said Wednesday that a Wall Street Journal article painted “an inaccurate view” of its role in the case. While USIS said it couldn’t “refute or verify” the government’s conclusions, the company said in a statement the federal government didn’t raise any concerns at the time about its work in February 2011 on the five-year “periodic reinvestigation” of Mr. Snowden. The company said the NSA, not USIS, was ultimately responsible for approving or denying Mr. Snowden’s security clearance.

But in an accompanying report to a review by U.S. intelligence officials of Snowden’s background check, it said the check failed to include interviews with Snowden’s former CIA co-workers and check one of his references, among other things, according to NBC News.

Since the Navy Yard shooting, as more details have emerged about Aaron Alexis, many of course have asked how Alexis passed the checks for a security clearance.  NBC reports that he received his initial security clearance in March 2008.

As the Washington Post points out, background checks aren’t necessarily always foolproof.  Things like not being a US citizen or receiving a dishonorable discharge from the military can get you disqualified, and a felony conviction could hold up an application if not disqualify you.  But that wasn’t the case with Alexis, according to the Post.

Alexis, of course, was both a U.S. citizen and a former Navy reservist who received an honorable discharge from the military. He was also never charged for incidents in 2004 and 2010 in which he shot out a car’s tires and fired a shot through the ceiling of his apartment into an upstairs neighbor’s dwelling.

Alexis’ mental health problems however were reported to the Navy, and it is not known why this didn’t raise any flags in allowing Alexis to keep his security clearance.

NBC News reports that the DOJ has expanded an existing investigation to include a review of Alexis’ case.

There are a still a lot of details we don’t know yet in the case of Aaron Alexis.  But we do know from the case of Edward Snowden that the system probably could use some scrutiny – whether that’s placed on the contractors performing the checks or on the government, or both.


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when I was vetted for nuke PRP i had fbi and secret service interview people including teachers from 4th grade and my pastor.

    Elliott in reply to dmacleo. | September 19, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    Yes. The FBI did a rather thorough one on me in the 1970’s right out of college. When was this farmed out to contractors who probably couldn’t pass one themselves? I guess it is cheaper at least in the short run.

I wonder if ISIS also vetted the 52 felons the inspector general said were still in th Navy yard.

The brave new world, where background checks = credit checks. lol.

It appears to be a common problem that goes far beyond the companies hired to do security clearances.

From an article in Stars and Stripes….

“The government’s sprawling system of background checks and security clearances is so unreliable it’s virtually impossible to adequately investigate the nearly 5 million Americans who have them and make sure they can be trusted with access to military and sensitive civilian buildings…”

You wouldn’t pass the test!

It’s like one of those things that in order to pass you have to have received “Secret” clearance in your background.

Thank goodness for Snowden. He exposed a real problem! Where you can see, now, how the Bill of Rights has been eroded. Not just with Dianne Feinstein thinking she can reconfigure “who is a journalist,” but losses in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th Amendments.

When will the lawyers take their blindfolds off?

I think this is a Ben Franklin joke. (Yes from about 1776.)

“Two wolves and a lamb are discussion what they should have for dinner.” The lamb has a gun.

So what if we our background check didn’t notice that the guy was a cross-dressing necrophiliac who had been bankrupt six times, had a massive drug habit and had ties to jihadists, the mafia and the Flat Earth or Die Society? It was close enough for government work?

    Anchovy in reply to irv. | September 19, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    This was for Navy contract work, not a member of congress or a former member of Hillary Clinton’s political team.

Conservative Beaner | September 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Time to call the Marx Brothers, I think they can do a better job.

If 5 million people hold US security clearances… and 1.5 million of them hold a TS clearance, too many people have access and too much information is classified.

I wonder if there is a link between this company and one (or more) of our elected representatives.

These contractors don’t pretend their reports are comprehensive, they just search all the public databases to save the federales the time of doing it. It’s up to the government agency to do the actual background check, this is just their starting point – or supposed to be.

Information concerning mental illness is as private as other medical information. The penalties for violating those laws are drastic. Finding out something like that would take a thorough and direct individual investigation.

This is not going to end well if people start thinking and supporting more intrusive background checks as a solution.
Be careful what you ask for.
A background check would not have made this guy sane.
He WAS sane enough to know a gun free zone would provide
him the best kill count.
Avoid gun free zones and if you really must enter one
ignore the request and carry.

JackRussellTerrierist | September 20, 2013 at 9:49 am

We’ve had enough evidence to prove this is going to get worse, not better, and all the more reason to not get militarily involved in Sytia.

What gives me the willies is the iceberg effect – we know of a few who’ve slipped through the ragged screening system, but we can’t know how many maniacs remain operative with security clearances.