Specifically, the focus of the inquiry is two-fold. One is whether or not current laws and regulations allow contractors to engage in activities that would otherwise be considered crimes by federal law enforcement agencies and/or the Intelligence Community (ICS). Secondly, the broader question of whether or not U.S. intelligence contractor employees are using classified information for personal reasons.
The fact of the matter is that this revelation is incredibly newsworthy. It shows that even though our elected representatives, including members of both parties in both Houses of Congress, are briefed on a regular basis on classified activities, they still don’t know what exactly their jobs include. Without hiring a full-time intelligence analyst, without knowing exactly what intelligence agencies do, how can anyone claim ignorance? The fact is that every job in the intelligence industry requires access to classified information. The fact that only a handful of news outlets reported on this story instead of the dozens of stories that would have made more sense to cover the story and more Americans aware of the breadth and depth of U.S. intelligence is appalling.
What the news coverage fails to tell you, however, is that many (if not most) intelligence professionals consider contractor leak investigations to be counterproductive and unfair to the very people the contractor is hired to protect from foreign government interference. In other words, as a national intelligence contractor working for the federal government, your employer, no matter how close to the government you work for, is bound by law to protect you. If you’re a private citizen working for a contractor with access to classified information, you’re only obligated to your own employer. And given the frequency with which contractors engage in intelligence activities, your employer probably believes he is only obligated to protect you from the activities of unauthorized contractors – not you.
Contractors working for intelligence and other government personnel who fail to protect their fellow government personnel from unauthorized disclosures of classified information face serious consequences. For example, if you are a contractor working on some highly sensitive information systems and you are found out to have shared that information with an unauthorized person, you could face severe consequences. In some cases, if your employer finds out about the unauthorized disclosure, he or she may decide not to renew your contract with the federal government and hire another contractor. If that happens, of course, you could be facing severe consequences yourself. All of this just highlights the need for regular updates (by regular American citizens) of how classified information is handled inside the U.S. government.