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Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

U.S. Reps. Wexton, Speier urge DNI to update security clearance guidelines

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U.S. Reps. Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) are urging the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines to adopt new security clearance guidelines to prevent individuals involved in extremist groups from accessing classified information.

Specifically, Wexton and Speier are asking the DNI to update current guidelines to directly screen for threats from white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other far-right extremists. Currently, individuals are not explicitly required to self-report involvement with extremist groups unless the organization professes to be a terrorist organization, seeks to overthrow the United States government, or uses violence.

“The ability of an individual to safeguard United States national security comes with a promise that they will protect all Americans and uphold our nation’s values,” Wexton and Speier wrote in a letter to Haines. “That ability is in doubt if there is reason to believe the individual supports or participates in activities that embrace hate, violent political ideologies, and far-right extremism.”

Wexton and Speier cite recent examples of individuals with access to classified information who were uncovered to be active members of hate-based groups, including one of those who rioted at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“As you are aware, the domestic terror landscape has shifted dramatically to the online ecosystem where white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, and far-right extremists are free to organize and share their violent ideology with little oversight or accountability. We are concerned that the current background investigatory process does not adequately screen for these activities,” they added.