Senators Want to Remove Politics From Security Clearances

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Two senators this week introduced a bipartisan piece of legislation that aims to “to protect the integrity of the security clearance process and ensure that it cannot be abused for political purposes.” Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, introduced the Integrity in Security Clearance Determinations Act on Thursday.

“Americans should be able to have confidence that the security clearance process is being used only to protect our nation’s greatest secrets,” said Sen. Warner. “Our bipartisan bill will make clear that security clearances are not to be used as a tool to punish political opponents or reward family members, but to ensure personnel are thoroughly vetted to the highest standards.”

The legislation, likely a response to recent accusations of mishandlings of the process by the Trump Administration, is designed to ensure that the security clearance process is “fair, objective, transparent, and accountable.” The bill does so by requiring all decisions to either grant, deny, or revoke clearances to be taken based on published criteria.

“The security clearance system is critical to protecting our country from harm and safeguarding access to our secrets. Americans should have the utmost confidence in the integrity of the security clearance process,” said Sen. Collins. “This bipartisan bill would make the current system more fair and transparent by ensuring that decisions to grant, deny, or revoke clearances are based solely on established adjudicative guidelines.”

The legislation also bans the executive branch from revoking clearances based on the exercise of “constitutional rights, such as the right to freely express political views, or for purposes of political retaliation.” Agencies are also prohibited from using security clearances to punish whistleblowers or discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, religion, age, handicap, or national origin. The legislation also codifies the appeals process offered to government employees in the event their security clearance is denied or revoked.

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