Sending Office: Honorable Stephanie N. Murphy
Cosponsor the Protect America’s Secrets Act to Prohibit Government Officials with Interim Security Clearances from Accessing Highly Sensitive Intelligence
Current Cosponsors: Murphy, Moulton, Panetta, Velázquez, Cooper, Hastings, Soto, Meng, Rice, Swalwell, Ruppersberger, Pingree
We respectfully invite you to cosponsor
H.R. 5057, the Protect America’s Secrets Act, which would prohibit any U.S. government employee, including an employee working in the Executive Office of the President, from being granted access to “highly sensitive” information unless and until
that employee has undergone an appropriate investigation, received a favorable adjudication, and been granted a permanent security clearance, as opposed to a temporary or interim clearance.
We filed this legislation on February 15, 2018. The following week, the White House circulated a memo essentially adopting the policy called for in our bill. Pursuant to the memo, approximately 30 White House aides who had only
interim clearances but nonetheless had access to highly sensitive information—including Jared Kushner—had their clearances downgraded to the Secret level. While this was a positive development, we believe it reinforces the need for legislation to ensure that
decisions like this are not left to the discretion of this administration or future administrations.
As noted, our bill would prohibit any U.S. government employee, including an employee working in the Executive Office of the President, from being granted access to highly sensitive information unless and until that employee has
undergone an appropriate investigation, received a favorable adjudication, and been granted a permanent security clearance, as opposed to a temporary or interim clearance. The term “highly sensitive” is defined in law—at 50 U.S.C. 3341(a)(4)—and encompasses
our most closely-held secrets, including information about special access programs and what is commonly known as sensitive compartmented information. The term would cover the President’s Daily Brief, a highly classified summary prepared by the intelligence
community that provides the president and a small group of executive branch officials with an update on world events and on our nation’s most sensitive intelligence activities.
On February 13, 2018, in testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stated that: “[S]ometimes I think it’s necessary to have some type of preliminary clearance in order
to fill a slot, but . . . if that is the case the access has to be limited in terms of the kinds of information they can be in a position to receive or not receive.”
Consistent with what could be called the “Coats rule,” H.R. 5057 would adopt the following limiting principle: unless you obtain a permanent security clearance following a full investigation, you should not be able to access highly
sensitive information. The bill would preserve the current ability of military personnel and other government employees who have already been determined to be eligible for access to classified information based on a favorable adjudication of a completed investigation
to be granted temporary access to a higher level of classification.
If you have any questions, or to cosponsor this legislation, please contact David Cox in Rep. Murphy’s office at
/s/Stephanie Murphy /s/Seth Moulton /s/Jimmy Panetta
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
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