- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2021

Capitol rioters, QAnon adherents and other conspiracy theorists could be ineligible to hold a security clearance if Congress passes reforms newly proposed by Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Florida Democrat.

Ms. Murphy, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, quietly introduced the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021 on the eve of President Biden being inaugurated Wednesday.

Supporters of former President Trump, whom Mr. Biden beat in November’s election, stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks earlier while Congress met to formalize the results of the White House race.

If signed into law, the legislation would require the government to add two questions to Standard Form 86, or SF-86, a lengthy questionnaire that applicants must complete to be considered for a clearance:

“Did you participate in the activities occurring at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, or in any similar activity?” and “Have you ever been a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities conducted by an organization or movement that spreads conspiracy theories and false information about the United States Government?”

“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,” said Ms. Murphy, a former U.S. Department of Defense specialist who held a high-level clearance. “It is highly unlikely that such an individual will be found by investigators to have shown the conduct, character and loyalty to the United States that is a prerequisite to holding a national security position and viewing classified information.”

The proposed reforms could prove consequential for any current or potential security clearance holders involved with QAnon, which encompasses a menagerie of fringe, far-right conspiracy theories.

Additionally, the bill’s author said the proposed question about participating in storming the Capitol or “similar activity” would cover attending any “Stop the Steal” protests that preceded it.

Some members of Congress spoke at “Stop the Steal” events. They could become ineligible for holding a security clearance if the reforms become law, effectively denying them access to classified information.

Mr. Trump and some fellow Republicans claimed the presidential election was “stolen” after it was called for Mr. Biden, but no court in the country has accepted evidence corroborating such a claim.

Scores of people have been charged with various federal crimes related to the storming of the Capitol, and the House impeached Mr. Trump for inciting an insurrection the following week.

Among the multitude of related cases are some in which federal prosecutors described the defendants in charging documents as being supporters of the delusional QAnon conspiracy theory movement.

QAnon is a sprawling, discredited, anti-establishment conspiracy theory that originated from postings on online message boards by an anonymous individual known as ‘Q’,” an FBI special agent explained in a footnote to one of those documents.

“Central to the QAnon conspiracy theory is the false belief that the world is run by a cabal of Satan-worshipping pedophiles and child-traffickers (allegedly largely comprised of prominent Democratic politicians, so-called ‘Deep State’ government employees, journalists and Hollywood elite) and that President Trump is secretly working with Q and others to take down the cabal,” they said.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Georgia Republican, supported QAnon before joining Congress this month, in addition to having pushed conspiracy theories involving tragedies including the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, among others. More recently, she spoke at “Stop the Steal” rallies. Her office did not immediately respond to messages seeking her reaction to the proposal and its potential ramifications on her congressional duties.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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