US spy agencies probed job seekers with links to al-Qaeda

CIA headquartersBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
One in five applicants for jobs in American intelligence agencies, who were rejected due to questionable backgrounds, were found to have connections with foreign intelligence or militant groups, including al-Qaeda.  This is revealed in an internal document provided to The Washington Post by American defector Edward Snowden. Snowden, a former technical expert for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), is currently living in Russia, where he has been granted political asylum. Last week, he gave The Post a top-secret document containing the 2012 budget summary for the US National Intelligence Program. Among other things, the document reveals that individuals with links to what the United States Intelligence Community terms “hostile intelligence”, or foreign terrorist organizations, have sought to obtain intelligence-related jobs in the US. According to the paper, roughly one out of every five job seekers at the CIA,  whose applications were rejected by the Agency due to suspicious backgrounds, had “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections”. Such connections allegedly included links with Lebanese Hezbollah, Islamic Hamas, as well as various al-Qaeda affiliates, all of which are on the US State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. The Post subsequently spoke to a CIA source who argued that the number of applicants found to have ties with militant groups was relatively small. The leaked document also mentions that the NSA has launched a major counterintelligence scheme aimed at uncovering “potentially suspicious or abnormal […] activity” among its employees. The Agency, which is tasked with communications surveillance, and is believed to be the biggest American intelligence organization, launched in excess of 4,000 investigations of its personnel in 2012 alone. The Post spoke with individuals “familiar with the software used to monitor employee activity” at the NSA, who said that probes were typically launched in response to excessive downloads of documents by employees. Probes are also launched in response to employees accessing classified databases that have little relevance to their particular expertise or line of work. The paper quoted NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines, who said that counterintelligence probes of personnel activities are part of the NSA’s “multifaceted insider threat program” and are conducted as a “due-diligence component” of the Agency’s security mechanism.

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