Capitol Breach

In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, people including U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, D-Aurora, center, shelter in the House gallery as violent protesters loyal to then-President Donald Trump try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

U.S. Rep. Jason Crow, a Centennial Democrat, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican and U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat, have teamed up on legislation to keep domestic terrorists from holding national security clearances.

H.R. 5513, to be known as the No Clearance for Domestic Terrorists Act, would amend the 1947 National Security Act to disqualify anyone from holding a security clearance if they have been involved, supported, trained to commit or advocated an act of domestic terrorism. The bill was introduced on Oct. 8.

A news release from Crow's office pointed out that the FBI has said its domestic terrorism caseload has tripled since the spring of 2020, from about 1,000 investigations to 2,700.

Cheney is vice-chair of the Jan. 6 Select Committee investigating the insurrection against the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Trump who attempted to halt the electoral college count. There have been more than 250 arrests tied to the insurrection, and a mountain of cases involving those defendants are currently moving through Washington, D.C. courts.

Murphy told Florida Politics in January that the legislation is intended to block QAnon and other conspiracy supporters from getting those valuable clearances.  “Any individual who participated in the assault on the Capitol or who is a member of the conspiracy movement QAnon should be required to disclose this fact when applying to obtain or maintain a federal security clearance," she said.

A February opinion piece in the The Hill said that some of the January 6 insurrectionists may have held those clearances, and pointed out that a Army reservist "with a current security clearance and access to a naval munitions depot in New Jersey was arrested in connection with the assault on the Capitol."

“Those entrusted with our country’s most sensitive secrets must be committed to our nation and our democracy. That’s why those who have engaged in an act of domestic terrorism should not hold a security clearance,” Crow said in the release. “I’m proud to advance this legislation with Congresswoman Murphy and Congresswoman Cheney; this is an important matter of national security that will help make the American people safer and more secure.”

Cheney said, “We must make sure we are doing everything possible to protect our nation and keep the American people safe. I’m proud to join Rep. Crow in leading this legislation that takes steps to prevent known domestic terrorists from receiving security clearances and accessing sensitive information. Increasingly, we know that threats to our way of life and our system of government do not only come from abroad, but can metastasize at home as well. We must confront domestic and international enemies that threaten the foundations of our constitutional republic. Adding this provision into the security clearance process will allow us to do that more effectively.”

Murphy, a former national security specialist at the Pentagon, added that "I know how dangerous it is for individuals who participated in domestic terrorism to receive a security clearance, which is a privilege and not a right. I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation with Representatives Crow and Cheney, which will protect our national security and ensure that only those who have shown the utmost conduct, character, and loyalty to the United States have access to our nation’s secrets.”

The lawmakers’ No Clearance For Domestic Terrorists Act will:

  • Direct Security Executive Agent to ensure the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines include whether an individual has been involved in, supported, trained to commit, or advocated domestic or international terrorism
  • Ensure that investigations, polygraphs, and adjudications include screening an individual for possible involvement with domestic terrorism
  • Require the Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions (Standard Form 85P) and the Questionnaire for National Security Positions (Standard Form 86) to elicit information regarding whether the individual submitting the form has been involved in domestic terrorism

The bill has been assigned to the House Committee on Intelligence and to the House Committee on Oversight.

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