Under a crushing backlog in issuing or renewing security clearances, federal authorities have given interim clearances to people they later discovered were murderers and pedophiles, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “This is very, very dangerous,” said Daniel Payne of the Defense Security Service. Some 100,000 people hold interim clearances while working for companies with Defense Department contracts or at 13,000 cleared facilities and plants around the U.S. “I’ve got murderers who have access to classified information. I have rapists. I have pedophiles. I have people involved in child porn,” Payne said at the Intelligence & National Security Summit in Washington, D.C. “This is the risk we are taking.”
The backlog “grew precipitously” in 2015 and 2016, and stands at near record levels today, said Charles Phalen of the National Background Investigations Bureau, a federal service provider under the Office of Personnel Management. The backlog numbers 700,000, but only 300,000 people are seeking a first-time clearance to enter government service. Asked how many cases his office had discovered of people with a murder in their background, Payne said: “It’s more than several. I would say less than a dozen.” A month ago, a man with an interim clearance got in an argument at a bar. “He pulls out a gun and shoots them in the face and kills them,” Payne said.