In the wake of Booz Allen Hamilton whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaks, Sen. Bill Nelson, D–Fla., called on Senate Intelligence Chair Dianne Feinstein, D–Calif., to investigate the hiring practices of government contractors with access to top-secret information.
In a letter to Feinstein, Nelson said that "the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by Edward Snowden was not the only disturbing incident involving a Booz Allen Hamilton employee with a top-secret security clearance."
Snowden is reportedly hiding out in Hong Kong after leaking information about the wiretapping practices of the National Security Agency earlier this month to reporters at The Guardian and The Washington Post. Snowden's leaks contained information about secret court orders allowing the NSA to monitor phone records as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Another secret NSA program called PRISM allowed the government to monitor user data from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other Internet companies.
"We may need legislation to limit or prevent certain contractors from handling highly classified and technical data," Nelson wrote. "I believe there should also be a committee investigation to determine how private contractors screen, hire and monitor employees who need top secret clearance from the government to handle highly-classified information."
Nelson attached a July 2011 Tampa Tribune story detailing the 2008 hiring of Scott Allan Bennett, a former Booz Allen Hamilton employee who allegedly got a top secret security clearance after being convicted of lying to government officials. Bennett was later caught smuggling weapons and ammo out of the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Nelson says that Snowden and Bennett's cases raise "serious quality control questions."
On June 11, Booz Allen Hamilton issued a statement saying Snowden was fired for "violations of the firm's code of ethics and firm policy" adding that news reports of Snowden's alleged information leaks were "shocking."
"If accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm," the company's statement said.
Though the House held an open intelligence hearing discussing NSA surveillance programs earlier this week, Feinstein has said that the Senate is unlikely to follow suit anytime soon.
The committee probably won't hold an open hearing until "we get a little further along [in] the facts and know what can be said," she told reporters Monday.