Questions and answers about security clearances

WASHINGTON — Rob Porter, who resigned as President Donald Trump’s staff secretary following allegations of spousal abuse, was one of as many as two dozen senior White House officials, including the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who hold interim security clearances.

Kushner is still working without a permanent security clearance, according to an administration official familiar the process but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Interim clearances are routinely issued — some because of a massive government backlog of hundreds of thousands of security clearance reviews.

A senior administration official said as many as two dozen senior officials don’t hold permanent clearances. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Questions and answers about security clearances:

Q: How are government workers screened?

A: The government conducts background investigations to make sure that job applicants or employees are suitable for employment. The scope of the investigations is based on the kind of information the worker will handle. Those handling top-secret information are more thoroughly vetted than those who don’t handle classified information at all. A “full-field background investigation” is required for employees assigned to high-risk jobs.

Q: How does the process begin?

A: Those seeking a security clearance must complete a lengthy document, usually about 120 pages long, that queries a person’s personal and professional life. Investigators look for red flags on about 13 areas of concern: allegiance to the U.S., foreign influence, foreign preference, sexual behaviour, personal conduct, financial considerations, alcohol consumption, drug involvement, psychological conditions, criminal conduct, handling of protected information, outside activities and the use of information technology

Q: Who does the investigations?

A: The FBI doesn’t do every background investigation, but often is involved in cases requiring top security clearances. FBI Director Christopher Wray said the FBI submitted a partial report on the Porter investigation in March 2017 and completed a …read more

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