Why A 29-Year-Old Contractor Had Access To Government Secrets
Brett LoGiurato | Jun. 9, 2013, 5:42 PM
Another question raised by the revelation of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is the federal government's growing use of contractors for things like defense and intelligence.
The Guardian reports that Snowden is a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA who has lately worked as a contractor for two companies — Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton. Booz Allen said that Snowden worked at the company for less than three months.
According to Washington Technology, Booz Allen had contracts with the government that totaled $3.85 billion in 2011. Dell had contracts that were worth $1.87 billion in 2011. Respectively, the two companies ranked just eighth and 19th in that category.
Both are part of a rise of so-called "Beltway Bandits" — private companies in or near Washington whose major business is providing services to the government.
Booz Allen gets about 98 percent of its revenue from government contracts. Washington Technology lists 17 "major" customers — and they are all different government agencies. The Defense Department, Air Force, Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Homeland Security Department, and IRS are just a few.
That Snowden has made some mindblowing claims about his power at Booz Allen — including the ability to "wiretap the President" if he wanted to — will likely call into question the power and access employees of these companies have, as well as the size of the U.S.'s national security mission in general.
"I had full access to the full rosters of everyone working at the NSA, the entire intelligence community, and undercover assets all around the world," Snowden said.
A groundbreaking 2010 report from The Washington Post found a vast expansion of government operations in the post-9/11 world.
Specifically, it found that 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies are working on intelligence, counterterrorism, or homeland security in the United States. The NSA alone, meanwhile, has contracts with 250 companies.
The 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama early this year, strengthens protections for whistleblowers who are employees of government contractors.
But employee reports of mismanagement or other violations are only protected if made to a member of Congress, an Inspector General, the Government Accountability Office, a federal employee responsible for contract oversight at the agency, an authorized official of a law enforcement agency, or a court or grand jury.