Recent reports show current and former U.S. national security officers (Executive Branch employees who perform classified national security work) abused their access to classified information, their security clearances, and their credentials as intelligence officers to meddle in U.S. politics and attempted to influence the outcome of presidential campaigns.
These actions raise serious questions in the eyes of many Americans about the professionalism and trustworthiness of U.S. national security agencies. The resulting erosion of trust in these agencies by the American public, the president and his senior officials, and Congress not only undermines their ability to perform crucial intelligence and law enforcement work but poses a serious risk to U.S. national security.
National security officers who abuse their positions or professions for political purposes violate the special trust placed in them to work on sensitive national security matters that cannot be revealed to the American public. When they abuse that trust to interfere in U.S. politics, they betray the American people.
Therefore, we believe it is urgent to implement corrective steps and reforms to encourage current and former intelligence officers not to abuse their professions to meddle in U.S. politics and to hold accountable those who have committed such abuses.
It is important to note that some former intelligence officers who misused their professional credentials for political purposes did not hold security clearances. We therefore must devise a strategy that does not solely revolve around revoking clearances as a remedy for these abuses.
The abuses by national security officers that we want to address stem from recent revelations about a fraudulent letter signed by 51 former intelligence officers in October 2020 about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal; the report by Special Counsel John Durham on how the FBI investigated false allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia in 2016; and the May 18, 2023, testimony before the House Weaponization of Government subcommittee by three FBI whistleblowers on politicization of the FBI against conservatives and whistleblower retaliation.
This proposal would not bar the free speech rights or legitimate political activities of current or former national security officers. It also would not bar those who formerly worked in national security positions (including in the intelligence community) from advising presidential campaigns or engaging in partisanship after they retire. Although current national security officers are barred by the Hatch Act from running for office or working on political campaigns, former national security officers are not. This would not change under this proposal.