U.S. Representative Stephanie Murphy, Democrat-Florida and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to introduce legislation to revise the federal background-check process and disqualify participants involved in the January 6 riot at the United States Capitol and members of a group known as QAnon from obtaining or maintaining a federal security clearance. An individual must possess a federal security clearance to hold a national security position and to access classified information.
Murphy, a third-term congressional representative from Winter Park, tweeted, “A security clearance is a privilege, not a right. 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.”
Murphy said her bill, the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021, would direct the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to ask applicants whether they have ever been a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities conducted by an organization or movement—”like QAnon—that spreads conspiracy theories and false information about the U.S. government.”
QAnon, according to the New York Times, “is the umbrella term for a sprawling set of internet conspiracy theories that date back to October 2017.”
Murphy’s proposed legislation says, “The objective of the background investigation—or periodic re-investigation, in the case of an individual who already holds a security clearance—is to examine the 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.’”
Under the bill, those seeking a federal security clearance like U.S. Congress members and staff would be asked to provide the name and address of the organization, any positions held in the organization, a description of the nature of and reasons for their involvement with the organization, the dates of their involvement with the organization, and any contributions made to the organization.
In addition, Murphy’s legislation would require the security clearance process to ask applicants whether they participated in the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol or a similar “Stop the Steal” event, and the precise role they played in that event.
Her office said, “Even if it does not constitute a criminal offense, attendance at an event designed to overturn the results of a presidential election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power raises serious questions about an applicant’s suitability for a security clearance.”