The CIA Says Many Of Its Applicants Have Ties To Terrorist Organizations -- And That's Just The Ones The Vetting Process Catches
from the look!-an-actual-'insider-threat!'-I'll-get-my-camera! dept
Among the many things exposed by the leak of the intelligence agencies' "black budget" was this interesting factoid.
The CIA found that among a subset of job seekers whose backgrounds raised questions, roughly one out of every five had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” according to the document, which was provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.The NSA has recently announced its plan to investigate its contractors and perhaps cut loose 90% of its sysadmins as a result of one sysadmin walking out the door with thousands of highly classified documents. The government as a whole is also tackling its "insider threats," although its methods and definitions leave a lot to be desired, considering it seems to be more targeted at rooting out whistleblowers than actual threats.
The groups cited most often were Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but the nature of the connections was not described in the document.
But what's really interesting about this statement from the CIA is not so much how many applicants with ties to terrorists are looking for intelligence work. Every intelligence agency will have its fair share of spies and moles angling for a spot on the inside. No, the more interesting question would be: how many are already working for the CIA?
As we covered back in July, the process for vetting intelligence agency employees is severely broken, with contractors being caught interviewing dead people and, in the case of one enthusiastic but seriously useless employee, falsifying one out of three background checks -- 1,600 in total over a three-year period.
If the vetting process has serious (and systemic) problems, it's very likely that a few potential terrorists have already made their way inside. If so, then the insider threat "problem" is now an actual problem, and while the government instructs its employees to pursue people who just don't seem to be "team players," employees who could do real damage to the agencies -- and know how to keep their heads down -- remain free from scrutiny.