Fraud exposed in government security clearance process, POLITICO says

Concern is growing about the security clearance process after Edward Snowden's NSA leak. File photo: Wikimedia Commons

Rampant fraud in the background check process for security clearances in the United States government - the process which gave Edward Snowden access to classified documents - will be disclosed to a Senate subcommittee on Thursday, POLITICO reports.

POLITICO's Tal Kopan says that the inspector general of OPM will tell a group of senators that in one instance, at 1,600 background checks were falsified by a federal worker.

It's a small fraction of the millions of government workers and contractors who have been granted some sort of security clearance, but OPM IG Patrick McFarlane told POLITICO that any fraud is a major concern.

"If that background investigation is not thorough, accurate, and reliable, then all other decisions made related to the issuance of the security clearance are suspect," McFarlane said.

Four levels of security clearance exist in the United States government - reliability status, confidential, secret and top secret. POLITICO says that nearly 30 percent of the people that currently hold a clearance are cleared for top secret information.

According to, Snowden, who is currently in hiding after he says he leaked information about government surveillance of American citizens by the National Security Agency, received the NSA's highest clearance level, allowing him access to the agency's most sensitive information.