The U.S. government’s system of security clearances for top officials is “broken” and must be completely overhauled, the Trump administration’s intelligence chief told The Associated Press, as questions swirl about how a top White House aide kept his access to highly sensitive information and the president despite accusations of domestic violence.
Dan Coats’ assessment in a telephone interview came just before he briefed lawmakers on Capitol Hill about global threats facing the United States. Coats was immediately confronted Tuesday by a top Democratic senator about continued questions about Rob Porter, who resigned his job as staff secretary last week after stories emerged detailing two ex-wives’ accounts of abuse.
Porter had been serving with an interim security clearance while his background check was pending, a common occurrence for officials in a government facing a backlog of hundreds of thousands of such security reviews.
“We have a broken system and I think everybody’s come to agree with that now,” Coats told the AP.
Calling for a “revolutionary change” in how the U.S. government vets its own people, Coats said what’s needed is a process that takes advantage of new technologies and information on social media to provide “early awareness of individuals.” He said such an approach would be faster and more effective than an investigation “having to go to 19 different places to talk to people, neighbors and school classmates and so forth.”