Investigators tasked with conducting background checks on U.S. national security workers like former NSA contractor-turned leaker Edward Snowden, falsified numerous records in conducting their investigations, according to the inspector general of the Office of Personnel Management.
IG Patrick McFarland says in prepared congressional testimony that OPM investigators aren’t receiving adequate supervision -- which is contributing to shoddy background checks of people being granted access to the government’s most important secrets.
In one case, McFarland will tell a Senate subcommittee, an OPM employee fabricated 1,600 credit checks. It was later discovered that the background check of that OPM investigator had been falsified as well.
Since 2006, 18 investigators at OPM (the agency responsible for 90 percent of background investigations) have been convicted of falsifying reports, while another 36 cases are pending. McFarland is set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee today to discuss the government’s security clearance process.
Snowden’s recent leak of information about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program has called attention to the government’s vetting process for people given access to classified information. - Read more at Bloomberg
A $7 BILLION SCRAP HEAP OF U.S. EQUIPMENT IN AFGHANISTAN The U.S. military will leave behind more than $7 billion worth of its vehicles and equipment in Afghanistan to save money on shipping as they rush to meet the 2014 withdrawal deadline. That’s the equivalent of about 20 percent of all U.S. materiel in that war-torn country. Some gear will be donated to allied nations but few will be able to retrieve it from the war zone. Most of it will be crushed into scraps and sold on the Afghan scrap market for pennies per pound. So far, U.S. forces have destroyed more than 170 million pounds worth of vehicles and other equipment. - Read more at The Washington Post
OBAMA PLANS TO LIMIT POWER PLANT EMISSIONS In the next few weeks, President Obama will roll out new regulations to limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants that many believe contribute to climate change. Electric power plants are the largest single source of global warming pollution in the country. The planned rules would not require congressional review, but will likely provoke legal challenges from Republicans, who say it is government overreach that could undercut the economic recovery. Some Democrats are also worried that tough new power plant standards could slow job growth and boost energy costs. Though specific details have not been released, the proposal would grant the Environmental Protection Agency authority to enforce power plants’ carbon emissions’ limits under the Clean Air Act. - Read more at The New York Times
MARKETS FREAK AFTER FED ANNOUNCEMENT During his press conference on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke likened the Fed’s plans to scale back its bond buying program by the end of the year to a driver “letting up a bit on the gas pedal” as his car picks up speed in order to get to a “reasonable cruising speed.” Shortly after the revelation, the stock and bond markets, “much like a skittish teenager with a learner’s permit, started crashing,” The Fiscal Times’ Josh Boak writes. The Dow Jones industrial average plunged 1.35 percent. Amid a bond sell-off, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes spiked to a 15-month high of 2.35 percent. - Read more at The Fiscal Times