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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

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June 11, 2013 - 12:41 pm

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, said today she’ll introduce legislation to limit the use of civilian contractors in gathering intelligence.

“The disclosure of leaked and highly sensitive classified information to the Washington Post and the Guardian raises several very important and disturbing issues. How is possible that a twenty-something high-school dropout and part-time security guard can be hired by the CIA and the NSA and given, or able to gain, access to some of the government’s most sensitive and secret information?” Jackson Lee said.

“Obviously, something went very wrong in the conduct of this individual’s security clearance background investigation, which is troubling enough in itself but particularly alarming given that more than 3 million persons hold similar top secret security clearances.”

Edward Snowden, like more than 483,000 other contractors, had top secret clearance. Another 582,000 contractors have confidential or secret clearance, according to a 2012 report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The remainder of clearances in the number Jackson Lee cites belong to government employees and others, such as politicians or staff.

“Congress must hold oversight hearings to identify and repair deficiencies in the security clearance system. At the same time, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community should be review its internal processes and procedures to assess vulnerabilities in the current system, which by the way relies too much on the use of outside contractors in intelligence gathering,” Jackson Lee said. “That is why I am offering an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 requiring the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress on the use of private contractors to conduct intelligence gathering and analysis activities.”

About 2,000 private companies do top-secret work for the U.S. government, spread out among contracts with 45 agencies.

Booz Allen Hamilton, where Snowden was employed for less than three months, reaped about $1.3 billion in revenue from intelligence contracts last year.

UPDATE: Jackson Lee said her amendment specifically calls for reducing by 25 percent the number of DoD contractors with top-secret security clearances.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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Top Rated Comments   
"How is possible that a twenty-something high-school dropout and part-time security guard can be hired by the CIA and the NSA and given, or able to gain, access to some of the government’s most sensitive and secret information?”

How is it possible that Shiela Jackson Lee is a congressman?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (14)
All Comments   (14)
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how is it that Obamacare "navigators" will not be required to have a high school diploma or undergo a background check?

How is it that Fort Hood was "workplace violence?"

How is it that for three years the IRS targeted only conservative groups?

wake up lil Sheila, wake up......
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment



....what I'd point out is "smaller government" across the board.

We fought the Second World War and the Cold War with so much less bureaucracy. Trouble is, supervisors always cry out, "I need more personnel!, or we can't get the job done.".....or, "need more Budget!"
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What a twit Jackson-Lee is.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I wish this lying stupid Democrat luck.

"as many contractors hold top secret clearances (524,990) as do federal workers (666,008)."

Her plan looks like the perfect way to hamstring American intelligence. Those civilian are probably the smarter of the two groups.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bradley Manning wasn't a contractor.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
"How is possible that a twenty-something high-school dropout and part-time security guard can be hired by the CIA and the NSA and given, or able to gain, access to some of the government’s most sensitive and secret information?”

How is it possible that Shiela Jackson Lee is a congressman?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Congrats, jmarie -- you got here first with the most obvious retort to Lee.
We've heard the old adage of "those who 'can't do,' teach," right? Well, those who can't do ANYTHING run for office.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
.....congresswoman?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
She's a woman? Sorry, my bad ;-)
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
[.....hey!......PSSSST!

Those trumpets and approaching marching boots we hear are the Gender-Neutral Police approaching our quivering keyboards.....Keep Calm.]
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't understand the difference in risk between a contractor having a clearance and a government employee having a clearance.. maybe the government employee is likely to stay at their job longer and therefore keep their need-to-know longer. But Snowden doesn't seem to have make his disclosure because he was moving to a different project, or quitting his job; he claims to have made it for moral reasons. Are contractors more likely to be bothered by morality than government workers?
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
Union didn't get its cut of the contractor.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is no difference in risk. It's all about human nature.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
What we seem to have here is a broken clock that's showing the right time. Jackson Lee is an idiot and a bona fide crazy person, but she's kinda got a point here.
44 weeks ago
44 weeks ago Link To Comment
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