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DOJ joins suit against US contractor charged with performing background checks

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] on Wednesday announced [press release] that it joined a lawsuit filed against United States Investigations Services LLC (USIS) [corporate website], the company charged with performing background investigations on potential employees of various federal agencies. The suit before the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama [official website] was brought by a former USIS employee more than two years ago under the False Claims Act [LII backgrounder] alleging that the company charged the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) [official website] for background investigations that the company intentionally failed to fully review. The DOJ, after its own investigation, decided to join the suit and asked the court to allow the government to file its own complaint. The DOJ stated that it "will not tolerate shortcuts taken by companies that we have entrusted with vetting individuals to be given access to our country's sensitive and secret information" and that it will "take action against those who charge the taxpayers for services they failed to provide, especially when their non-performance could place our country's security at risk." The DOJ is expected to file its complaint by January 22.

The company had vetted Edward Snowden [JURIST profile] before he released classified documents as well as Aaron Alexis, a technology contractor who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard in September. The revelations surrounding the National Security Agency's surveillance programs have sparked worldwide debate and controversy. In July Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] stated that US authorities' efforts to thwart Edward Snowden's attempts to seek asylum [JURIST report] amount to serious human rights violations. In June he was charged [JURIST report] with espionage for leaking top secret documents. The complaint charges Snowden with an unauthorized communication of national defense information, theft of government property, and willful communication of classified intelligence information. In an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian, Snowden said he released the material because he believed the surveillance violated the right to privacy.

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