Security clearance points to problems with access to secrets
WASHINGTON- Federal agencies have inadvertently issued interim security passes to criminals while dealing with a backlog of 700,000 security clearance reviews.
The government-wide pileup is also leading to work delays for both federal and private intelligence efforts. At the same time officials are trying to reduce the backlog, they are getting pressure to tighten access to classified material.
It takes about four months to acquire a clearance to gain access to "secret" information on a need-to-know basis, and nine to 10 months for "top-secret" clearance.
The director of the U.S. Defense Security Service, Dan Payne, says if interim clearances are not issued, nothing gets done. Yet Payne also says that partial background checks can lead to people receiving access to secret and top-secret information for long periods of time.