Pentagon employees with security clearance to undergo continuous vetting
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The Defense Department will use a new vetting process for its employees that will continuously scan government and commercial databases for any aberrations, replacing the previous system which scrutinized such information every five to 10 years, defense officials announced Tuesday.
The Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) – the government arm that gives security clearances to government employees – previously checked individuals’ criminal histories and credit reports once every 10 years if they had a secret clearance and every five years if they possessed top secret clearance.
Under the new method, however, the DCSA will automatically scan databases for new information that could crop up. In addition, other agencies will ping the Defense investigators should they discover a criminal investigation or major financial loss occurred with a Pentagon employee, DCSA Director William Lietzau told reporters.
Lietzau pointed to several examples, including a January warning the agency received on an employee with a secret clearance. The alert, which notified the DCSA that the individual was under investigation for ties to a terrorist organization, came three days after they enrolled in the system.
“This alert identified that the subject was under active investigation by another government agency for potential terrorism activities, including a plan targeting United States facilities, and ties to known or suspected terrorists,” Lietzau said.
He added that the DCSA hopes to enroll the rest of the federal government in the system, with 30 agencies signed on so far including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Federal Aviation Administration.
The new scrutiny of Defense employees will aid the Biden administration’s wider plan to address domestic terrorism, an issue put in stark relief following the events of the Jan. 6 insurrection on the Capitol Building by supporters hoping to keep former President Trump in power. A number of current and former military members were found to have participated in the violent attack.
In April, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin moved to set up new screening procedures as part of an effort to weed out extremists in the military.