News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Nearly 500,000 non-government employees have "top secret" US security clearances. 1.1 million more are have "confidential and secret" clearance-AP, 6/10/2013

6/10/2013, "Leak highlights key role of private contractors," AP, Jonathan Fahey, Adam Goldman 

"The U.S. government monitors threats to national security with the help of nearly 500,000...employees of private firms who have access to the government's most sensitive secrets.... 

Of the 4.9 million people with clearance to access "confidential and secret" government information, 1.1 million, or 21 percent, work for outside contractors, according to a report from Clapper's office.

Of the 1.4 million who have the higher "top secret" access, 483,000, or 34 percent, work for contractors....

A top secret clearance costs the government $4,005 per investigation, according to the Government Accountability Office. Lower-level security clearances cost $260. 

Once given security clearance, workers can access offices, files and, most important, dedicated communications and computer networks that are walled off from the public. 

Snowden previously worked for the CIA and likely obtained his security clearance there. But like others who leave the government to join private contractors, he was able to keep his clearance after he left and began working for outside firms. 

Because clearances can take months or even years to acquire, government contractors often recruit workers who already have them....

Analysts caution that any of the 1.4 million people with access to the nation's top secrets could have leaked information about the program — whether they worked for a contractor or the government. It was a government employee — U.S. Army Soldier Bradley Manning — who was responsible for the last major leak of classified material, in 2010.... 

Critics say reliance on contractors hasn't reduced the amount the government spends on defense, intelligence or other programs. Rather, they say it's just shifted work to private employers and reduced transparency. It becomes harder to track the work of those employees and determine whether they should all have access to government secrets. 

"It's very difficult to know what contractors are doing and what they are billing for the work or even whether they should be performing the work at all," said Scott Amey, an expert in contractor oversight and government transparency at Project on Government Oversight, a non-partisan government accountability organization based in Washington. "It has muddied the waters.""...


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