At the Pentagon’s request, Senate defense authorizers tucked deep within a defense bill a repeal of the department’s restriction on granting security clearances to ex-convicts, drug addicts and the mentally incompetent.
The repeal provision now is creating discord between the Senate Armed Services and the Intelligence committees. In its markup of the 2008 defense authorization bill, the Intelligence panel voted to delete the Armed Services provision.
The fate of the provision could become a flashpoint this week as the Senate takes up the bill.
The Senate Armed Services panel seeks to repeal a seven-year-old law that established mandatory standards disqualifying certain people from receiving security clearances.
Under the law, members of the military services, employees of the Department of Defense or contractors working for the Pentagon cannot receive a security clearance if they were convicted of a crime in any U.S. court and went to prison for at least one year; if they are unlawful users of illegal substances; if they are considered mentally incompetent or if they were dishonorably discharged or dismissed from the armed forces.
Three ways to look at this, I guess:
1.) The Pentagon and the Armed Forces have suddenly decided they believe in rehabiliation.
2.) The military and defense establishment are so broken and desparate for recruits that they have to relax EVERY standard in place in order to have enough bodies.
3.) The military and defense department are concerned that after the Bush administration, so many Republicans are going to have criminal records that they won’t be able to staff all their positions.