— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 10, 2018
This does not really surprise me. It was telegraphed earlier in the week by the Chief of Staff who stated that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) Democratic minority memo was:
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told reporters on Tuesday that the White House is reviewing the memo Democrats wrote as a rebuttal to the four-page document compiled by staffers of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), and he’s “not leaning toward” it being released as is.
“This is a different memo than the first one, it’s lengthier, well it’s different, so not learning toward it,” Kelly told reporters. “It will be done in a responsible way. But again, where the first one was very clean relative to sources and methods, my initial cut is this one is a lot less clean.”
I have no idea what is in the Democratic minority’s memo, so I have no real idea what the problem may be. But a blanket rejection is unlikely to settle things down in regard to the Nunes staff drafted memo, just how bad it was, and how it was overpromised and under delivered in regard to anything of significance.
In related news, it was reported yesterday that the entire, let me repeat that – the entire – Republican staff of the House Permanent Select Committee are under investigation as potential leakers.
Rooney said one reason for the tension is an erosion of trust, exacerbated by an ongoing ethics investigation into the “entire Republican staff,” including “the woman up front that answers the phone” for alleged leaks. He later added that the matter was being handled by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
I did some checking this afternoon to confirm my understanding of how Congressional staff, including committee staff, get their clearances. While the actual representatives and senators get their clearances because they’re constitutional officers; they come with the job. There is no submission of an SF-86, no clearance investigation, and no adjudication for award or denial for senators and representatives. However, Congressional staffers, including the committee staff, have to go through the process that everyone else does: fill out and submit an SF-86, go through the clearance investigation, go through a polygraph if necessary, have an adjudicator decide if one is awarded or denied the clearance, have the determination sent to the Special Security Officer for Congress, and then be indoctrinated/read on to the clearance.
Being under investigation for leaking is cause for suspension of access until the investigation is complete. If the Republican staff on the HPSCI are still accessing classified information, as was reported, something has gone very, very wrong with the Special Security Officer for the House of Representatives. They should have their access pulled/clearances suspended and either be reassigned to work that has nothing to do with classified information or sent home until the investigation is completed, a final determination is made, and any appeals made and exhausted. This is akin to the rule breaking and bending regarding clearances we’ve seen with Rob Porter and others in the Executive Office of the President on the White House staff.
Just a final, quick housekeeping note on clearances as a couple of you have asked some questions. The investigators, the FBI for executive branch appointments or the Office of Professional Management, on behalf of whichever department, agency, bureau, and/or office for a lot of the rest of the clearances issued within the Federal government, just conduct the investigations. They assign an investigator to meet with the person being considered for the clearance or undergoing a periodic review for renewal of their clearance, they meet with those the person being considered provide as contacts, they review a variety of records – criminal, financial, etc – and then prepare a report, which is forwarded to an adjudicator. The adjudicators review the report, including anything specifically flagged by the investigators, and makes a determination to grant or deny the clearance. If the clearance is granted, then the Special Security Officer is notified at the agency, department, bureau, office, or command or the Facility Security Officer if the awardee is a contractor, and an indoctrination/read on is scheduled. Interim clearances are intended to be for limited durations so that personnel can begin work while the clearance process is underway as it can take between 9 months and 2 years for a clearance award or renewal to be completed, despite regulations requiring them to be concluded in four to six months. The delays are because the entire process is underfunded, understaffed, and generally backed up. Moreover, since the Manning and Snowden leaks, and subsequent other major breaches, the Special Security Officers have gotten even less flexible in regard to authorizing clearance indoctrinations/read ons. This further slows things down and makes it hard for personnel to move from one position to another.
Finally, two last bits of breaking news (gonna be that kind of night…).
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) February 10, 2018
The White House — and this admin — are in a state of crisis. Rachel Brand, #3 at DOJ, is leaving, per somebody close to her & admin, "because she is very smart, accomplished, and talented, and wants to protect her career." She is going to Walmart, this source says.
— Eliana Johnson (@elianayjohnson) February 9, 2018