A backlog in security clearances for sensitive White House jobs is not new.
Just ask the Clinton administration.
More than a year into Bill Clinton’s first term, of 1,044 White Houser personnel, nearly 100 had no security clearance at all, according to press reports in 1994.
The scandal alarmed both Republicans and Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, who wrote to CIA Director James Woolsey on March 17, 1994.
“…What specific steps…have [you] taken to ensure that information classified to protect intelligence sources and methods has not been made available to individuals on the White House staff who do not have appropriate clearances[?],” they asked.
And there was a problem with basic passes. Nearly one-third of all staff lacked permanent grounds and building passes.
The Washington Times reported that the blame lied with an associate White House counsel and former law partner to Hillary Clinton. The counsel chose to stop sending FBI background checks to the Secret Service for review after the office objected to passes for two staffers for security reasons.
The White House associate counsel himself did not get a permanent pass until nearly a year into the administration.
Mr. Clinton addressed the problem at a press conference.
“I learned, when I read about this, that apparently previous Administrations have had some of the same problems,” he said. That is they’d been lax, because of the cumbersome nature of the process. We, now, basically put in rules that say that anybody comes to work here now has to get all this done in 30 days or is immediately on leave without pay. They can’t get paid unless they do it.”
Mr. Clinton said he asked his chief of staff and White House counsel to “fix this and make sure it never happens again, so I feel confident that we have.”
At the time, The Washington Times reported that more than 500 of the 1,000 background checks of Clinton personnel “would have prevented the people [involved] from obtaining security clearances at the FBI, Defense Department or CIA.”
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified on Tuesday that government-wide there is a backlog of 700,000 security clearance approvals.