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NSA Leak Prompts Talk of Limiting Contractor Access to Secrets

In the wake of Edward Snowden’s leak of highly classified documents from the National Security Agency, some in Congress are raising concerns about contractors’ access to government secrets, according to an article in The New York Times.

Snowden was an employee at Booz Allen Hamilton, a major defense contractor who provides numerous services to the intelligence community. Booz Allen and other intelligence and defense contractors have access to huge volumes of classified government information. The recent leak is now causing some lawmakers to reconsider this broad access given to some contractors.

From the article:

“We will certainly have legislation which will limit or prevent contractors from handling highly classified and technical data,” said [Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee], a California Democrat. Senior White House officials said they agreed.

But limiting contractor’s access to classified information would require a massive reorganization of the intelligence world.

Booz Allen is one of many companies that make up the digital spine of the intelligence world, designing the software and hardware systems on which the N.S.A. and other military and intelligence agencies depend.


Removing contractors from the classified world would be a wrenching change: Of the 1.4 million people with Top Secret clearances, more than a third are private contractors. (The background checks for those clearances are usually done by other contractors.)

Read more in The New York Times.

By: Andre Francisco
Online Producer, POGO

andre francisco Andre Francisco is the Online Producer for the Project On Government Oversight.

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Contractor Accountability, Defense, Federal Contractor Misconduct, Government Privatization, Intelligence

Authors: Andre Francisco

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