Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Avril Haines urging the adoption of new security clearance guidelines to prevent individuals who are involved in hate and violence-based extremist groups from accessing classified information. Speier and Wexton are asking the DNI to update current guidelines to directly screen for threats from white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and other far-right extremists. Under current guidelines, 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,” said Speier and Wexton in their letter. “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.”
Speier and Wexton are concerned that the current background investigatory process does not adequately screen for ties to white supremacy and extremism and particularly emphasized the online ecosystem in which current far-right groups have been able to organize and spread their violent ideology. They 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 January 6th, and a Loudoun County man who attended the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and headed a regional white nationalist group.
The full text of the letter can be found here.