U.S. representative's bill would ban QAnon supporters, Capitol rioters from getting security clearances

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Published Wednesday, January 20, 2021
by John Haughey | The Center Square

(The Center Square) - Florida U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy will introduce a bill to revise the federal background-check process to bar QAnon believers and those who participated in the Capitol insurrection from receiving security clearances necessary to hold government positions.

Murphy's bill, the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021, would ask applicants seeking security clearances whether they have been "a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities conducted by organizations or movements that circulate conspiracy theories and false information."

"A security clearance is a privilege, not a right," tweeted Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat. "If an American participated in the Capitol attack - or if they subscribe to the dangerous anti-government views of QAnon, which has been linked to that attack - then they have no business being entrusted with our nation's secrets."

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United State capitol in Washington, D.C. (c) iStock - Muni Yogeshwaran

QAnon conspiracy theories have been weaved from cryptic postings on anonymous message boards since October 2017 from "Q," who claims to be a U.S. intelligence official with a Q-level security clearance.

Murphy, a third-term congressional representative who sits on the House Armed Services and Ways and Means committees, is a former national security analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense.

As someone who conducted federal security background checks, Murphy said "it is highly unlikely" anyone who believes "Q" "will be found by investigators to have shown the conduct, character and loyalty to the United States prerequisite to holding a national security position and viewing classified information."

Murphy's proposal also precludes participants in the Capitol insurrection Janunary 6 from holding security 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.

According to Murphy's office, the bill requests the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to add a question to Section 29 of the 130-page Standard Form 86 (SF-86) questionnaire that queries applicants whether they have been "a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities ... that circulate conspiracy theories and false information."

The SF-86 background check is for first-time applicants and renewals for security clearances to assess an individual's "behavior, activities, and associations" to determine whether the individual is "reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S."

"Armed with this information," Murphy said, "the U.S. government will be in a better position to make the discretionary decision about whether the applicant is 'reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S' and thus deserving of a security clearance."

If adopted, several of Murphy's Republican House colleagues, such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, could be among those barred from holding security clearances because of their association with QAnon.

Greene has dismissed the shooting that left 17 dead at Parkland's Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day 2018 as a "false flag" attack on Second Amendment rights.

Boebert, like Greene, elected to her first term Nov. 3, is among congressional representatives facing internal scrutiny for allegedly leading "reconnaissance tours" before the assault.

Boebert called the "reconnaissance" allegations and Murphy's proposed security clearance prohibitions, as attacks by Democrats "to exhaust my time and my resources to get me to back down. What they don't realize is these attacks are only solidifying my base and adding more support. The people know I'm here for them."

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