Alexis and Snowden: Both IT Contractors, No College--But Security Clearances

By Dennis M. Crowley | September 17, 2013 | 3:55pm EDT

Aaron Alexis, alleged shooter in the Sept. 16 Washington Navy Yard rampage that killed 13 people, including Alexis. (AP)

( – Aaron Alexis, the alleged gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shootings, and accused secrets-leaker Edward Snowden who now lives somewhere in Russia, had several things in common: neither had a college degree; both worked in IT for a federal contractor; and both received security clearances.

Alexis, killed in the Sept. 16 rampage, had a “secret clearance,” according to his employer,  The Experts Inc., a subcontractor that was helping Hewlett-Packard service the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. CNN quotes Navy officials as saying Alexis was employed as an information technology contractor.

Reuters quotes Thomas Hoshko, CEO of The Experts, Inc., as saying “He  [Aaron Alexis] did have a secret clearance.” Hoshko also says Alexis had been issued a CAC (Common Access Card), allowing him access to the installation.

Hoshko told Reuters that Alexis had worked for the firm in Japan from September 2012 to January 2013, and had recently been re-hired to work at the Washington Navy Yard in information technology after a background investigation was re-run in July of this year.

Reuters quotes Navy officials as saying Alexis received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy reserve in 2011, despite a series of incidents involving misconduct and insubordination.

Alexis murdered 12 people, and was himself shot and killed.

Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency, in Hong Kong.  (AP Photo/The Guardian, File)

Alexis was arrested in 2004 in Seattle, Wash., after being charged with firing three shots into a car parked near his house

In addition, Alexis was arrested in 2010 and charged with firing a bullet through the floor of his upstairs neighbor’s apartment in Fort Worth, Texas.

Edward Snowden, an IT specialist, and former CIA- and NSA-employee, is accused of leaking information from several top-secret U.S and British-government intelligence programs.

He was employed in the IT field as a “systems administrator” for Booz Allen Hamilton, a National Security Agency sub-contractor until June 2013, for less than three months. ‎

On June 14, 2013, U.S. federal prosecutors charged Snowden with espionage and theft of government property.

Snowden left the country and is now living at a secret-location in Russia.

The American flags surrounding the Washington Monument fly at half-staff following the deadly shooting Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Both Snowden and Alexis were employed in the IT field through private contractors and were able to get federal government security clearances. Both men also had never graduated from college.

Alexis graduated from high school in New York City, and was pursuing a degree (online) from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Snowden did not complete high school but did obtain a diploma by taking an equivalency test, or GED. NBC News reports that Snowden attended Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland where he took computer courses.

Snowden reportedly did not have a criminal background. He was employed by a National Security Agency contractor even though there apparently were “discrepancies  on his resume.”

Snowden's background investigation was conducted by USIS, an independent contractor based in the Washington, D.C. area. USIS defends its investigation of Snowden, saying “sponsoring agencies, not background investigation contractors, determine the suitability of an individual for getting or retaining a security clearance."

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