Many individuals with connections to terrorist groups like a-Qaeda apparently think that “CIA agent” is the career for them.
According to leaked data on the Central Intelligence Agency, one in five CIA applicants are flagged for “significant” ties to groups hostile to the U.S.
A classified budget document, dubbed the “black budget” by the Washington Post, also reveals that the CIA investigates thousands of current employees every year to make sure state secrets (and agents) remain uncompromised.
The document was sent to WaPo by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
It shows that one in five CIA applicants have “significant terrorist and/or hostile intelligence connections,” usually to groups like al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah.
Internal investigations performed as recently as last year show that the NSA spearheaded at least 4,000 probes of “potentially suspicious or abnormal staff activity.”
What applies as “suspicious” or “abnormal?” If intelligence community members downloaded multiple documents or accessed classified databases more than they normally would for their job, that sent up a red flag.
CIA officials did provide comment on the latest leak, and characterized the number of applicants with connections to terror groups as “small.”
“Over the last several years, a small subset of CIA’s total job applicants were flagged due to various problems or issues,” on official said. “During this period, one in five of that small subset were found to have significant connections to hostile intelligence services and or terrorist groups.”
The budget also shows that the internal investigation was met with several delays due to the fallout from the Bradley Manning leaks.
The new report has already resulted in some criticism. Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy expert at the Federation of American Scientists, seemed to imply that the “black budget” betrays an extraordinary waste of resources.
“If the 4,000 cases turn up only two or three actual threats, they need to adjust their detection threshold or they’ll be using a lot of resources for no purpose,” he said.
Captain Joe Morrow, a prosecutor in Manning’s case, seemed to believe that the CIA probes were moot. “We can take all the mitigation steps in the world, but the bottom line is that there is no step we can take as a nation, as a military, that’s going to stop the determined insider.”