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Senator to DHS: How Did Omar Mateen Pass Employment Check with Federal Contractor?

A Senate Democrat is demanding that the Department of Homeland Security probe how Orlando nightclub terrorist Omar Mateen was able to clear a background check to hold a security officer position at a federal contractor.

Mateen, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State during his attack and also consumed propaganda from late al-Qaeda recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, was investigated in 2013 and 2014 for potential ties to terrorism. He was employed by G4S Secure Solutions after being kicked out of a correctional officer training program in 2007 for threatening to bring a gun to class.

After Mateen was flagged for an FBI terror probe, the company moved him from his courthouse security job to the entrance at a gated residential community in Palm Beach County.

In a letter this week to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) pointed to "clear and troubling signs that Mateen's screening as an employee at G4S was inadequate" -- particularly given the company's work with DHS, including a recent $234 million contract from DHS.

G4S has contracted in the past with the State Department, Justice Department, Energy Department, Drug Enforcement Administration, Army and Air Force. The company also assists Customs and Border Protection operations along the southern border and aids U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with illegal immigrant transfers.

Through Mateen's employment, he was granted a state security guard firearm license.

“As the investigations into this tragedy continue, it is imperative that we also ensure that depraved individuals like Mateen are properly vetted and barred from these sensitive posts,” Tester wrote. “It is clear that the screening procedures in place failed in this case. It is critically important that we all take the necessary steps to ensure we are keeping our nation safe by ensuring that individuals charged with the protection of others are suitable, stable, and capable of fulfilling their duties.”

Tester asked Johnson to provide specific information about Mateen's background checks both before being offered a job and throughout the course of his employment. The senator also wants to know how DHS screens its contractors.

"Given the screening procedures provided by G4S, would Mateen have been eligible to work at a federal facility or operate federal equipment for DHS?" Tester asked.

When Tester was chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce, he introduced the Security Clearance Oversight and Reform Enhancement (SCORE) Act in response to Edward Snowden's NSA leaks. That was approved by Congress.

It removed a block on the Inspector General of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) using resources from the agency's $2 billion revolving fund to investigate the integrity of background checks.