U.S. officials plan to monitor workers with high clearances

Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could monitor employees, in part to foil leakers. Such a system might also detect troubling signs in those who already hold security clearances.
By STEPHEN BRAUN, Associated Press Published: March 11, 2014
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Stung by internal security lapses, U.S. intelligence officials plan to use a sweeping electronic system to continually monitor workers with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.

Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could monitor employees, in part to foil leakers like former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden, whose revelations bared massive U.S. surveillance operations. Such a system might also detect troubling signs in those who already hold security clearances, such as the shooter in last year’s mass killings at Washington’s Navy Yard. Many of the nearly 4 million government employees who hold secret clearances would be scanned by the new system, officials say.

An administration review of the government’s security clearance process due this month is expected to support continuous monitoring as part of a package of comprehensive changes.

Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals’ private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk. Supporters say the system would have safeguards.

Workers with secret clearances are already required to undergo background checks of their finances and private lives before they are hired and again during periodic re-investigations.