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  1. #1
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Aug 2006

    W.H. looks to scrub clearance list

    (Last administration news but relevant to current discussion on security clearances)

    W.H. looks to scrub clearance list


    Josh Gerstein

    James Clapper asks agencies to perform a top-to-bottom scrub.

    The Obama administration has ordered a government-wide reassessment of how almost 5 million Americans have been granted classified information security clearances and whether each person currently approved to see sensitive national security secrets truly has a need for such access.

    Reeling from National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks of top-secret surveillance programs and mentally computer contractor Aaron Alexis’s deadly shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard, the intelligence community is coming to the conclusion that the sheer number of personnel with clearances is making the government and the country as a whole vulnerable to a slew of dangers.

    In a directive obtained by POLITICO, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper questioned the booming rolls of security-clearance holders. At last count, more than 4.9 million people held clearances, of whom over 1.4 million were cleared for access at the “Top Secret” level.

    “I write to express my concern about threats to national security resulting from the increasing number of people with eligibility for access to classified national security information, particularly Top Secret (TS) and Top Secret/Secure Compartmented Information (TS/SCI),” Clapper wrote in a three-page memo, dated Oct. 31 and cited at a Senate hearing Wednesday.

    Clapper asked agencies to perform a top-to-bottom scrub of the teeming rolls of people authorized to access classified information and to remove anyone deemed not to have a so-called need to know.

    The memo itself does not set a deadline for the government-wide clearance review, but an aide to Clapper told a Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs subcommittee that agencies have until the end of January to complete the process.

    The new order may not have much immediate effect on the number of people with security clearances. That’s because individuals retain their clearances for a period of time even after they leave their jobs or are deemed to no longer require access to classified information.

    “I ask that agency heads… conduct a comprehensive review validating that each government employee or contractor who has been granted a security clearance continues to require such eligibility for access to classified national security information in support of their current position or your agency’s mission,” Clapper wrote. “Agencies should debrief all government and contractor personnel who no longer require such access and update the appropriate national security database or repository.”

    Clapper’s directive indicates that the Obama administration has not only begun to view the huge number of clearances as a security risk, but a serious budgetary stress. The federal government spends about $1 billion a year on background checks, according to the Government Accountability Office.

    Under government rules, employees and contractors with top secret clearances are supposed to have their backgrounds re-checked at least every five years and people with secret clearances are supposed to undergo such reviews at least every ten years. Due to budget issues, that simply isn’t happening, Clapper acknowledges.

    “As a result of budget shortfalls and the impacts of sequestration, several agencies temporarily suspended the initiation of periodic reinvestigations,” he wrote. “Such actions foster counterintelligence and national security risk.”

    The bulk of Clapper’s memo is devoted to encouraging agencies to prioritize such reviews to address the most likely and most significant potential threats. The priority list he lays out clearly appears to have been influenced by the case of Snowden, who served as a computer technician and systems administrator for contractor Booz Allen Hamilton at a National Security Agency facility in Hawaii.

    Officials have said Snowden used his administrator privileges to obtain many of the thousands of sensitive documents he allegedly copied. Others he reportedly obtained by using his tech support role to convince NSA colleagues to share their passwords.

    Included on Clapper’s list of “highest-risk” groups worthy of frequent reinvestigation: “Privileged Users, or other information technology specialists involved with information sharing activities.” The category includes “Data Transfer Officers, System Administrators (Sys Admins) with unlimited access, Sys Admins who can access more than a local system, or Sys Admins with localized permissions.”

    At Wednesday’s hearing, Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) suggested the number of Americans with security clearances has grown far too large.

    “I don’t know about you, but 5 million seems like a heck of a lot of folks to have security clearance. And 1.4 million top-secret security clearances seems like a pile,” Tester said. “That’s more than live in the state of Montana by about 40 percent.”

    Initially, ODNI official Brian Prioletti defended the system that has delivered a security clearance to roughly one in every 61 Americans.

    “Are we making sure security clearance[s] are going to those who absolutely need that access to that information to be able to do their jobs?” Tester asked.

    “Yes, sir. I believe they are — because they are continually reviewed and revisited to determine, to ensure that they are meeting today’s environment in which we work,” said Prioletti, an assistant director in ODNI’s Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.

    However, near the end of the hearing, Prioletti spoke up to acknowledge that the roster of those with clearances might be getting a little overgrown.

    “We’re very sensitive to what you say about that number…. 5 million of anything is a lot,” he said, later mentioning Clapper’s directive triggering the government-wide review.

    Earlier in the session, a GAO official said her organization recommended to ODNI more than a year ago that agencies be required to conduct reviews of who has access to classified information on a periodic basis.

    “We still believe this needs to be done,” GAO’s Brenda Farrell said.
    Last edited by GeorgiaPeach; 08-20-2018 at 02:29 PM.
    Matthew 19:26
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  2. #2
    Moderator Beezer's Avatar
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    Apr 2016
    Definitely need to terminate Barry Sotero's...he is a real danger to this country.

    Unseal his records...we demand the truth!


  3. #3
    Super Moderator GeorgiaPeach's Avatar
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    Aug 2006

    Trump Calls Out ‘Security Clearance’ Profiteers in John Brennan Tweet
    Matthew 19:26
    But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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