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.
This is not the first time we’ve seen this sort of thing — remember the Obamcare navigators? But the epic scale of this deception is amazing. Not just because of the crime that was committed — but because our government needed 1.6 million background checks in just four years. That should give you an idea of just how massive our federal civilian work force is.
But this again illustrates why “just trust us” is not good enough for government surveillance powers. How many of these 665,000 had access to sensitive, classified or personal information? How many have security clearances? How many had access to the NSA’s databases? We are constantly reassured that our government’s power is double-checked and that there is a careful system of checks to make sure it isn’t abused. Then we find out they keep information away from federal judges, cover up sharing of information with the FBI and DEA and faked 40% of their background checks.
Feeling safe now?