Saturday, December 11, 2004

Straining at Gnats and Swallowing Camels

Is it acceptable to give a US government security clearance to someone who has family members living in China? According to Judge James A. Young, the answer is a resounding "no":

While Applicant's contacts in the PRC are not foreign agents, their presence in that country, subject to the pressures of the communist regime, places them in a position to be potentially exploited by the PRC in a way that could force Applicant to choose between loyalty to his family and associates and loyalty to the U.S.
(Link courtesy of Arms Control Wonk.)

Of course, if you happen to be an aide to Dennis Hastert, it doesn't matter if you're a registered foreign agent with direct ties to Beijing's power can see all the U.S. secrets you want:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert has hired a registered agent for a division of a Communist Chinese company linked to Beijing's military intelligence to be his new senior adviser for foreign policy and defense matters.
And that that goes double if you're a Saudi royal:
WOODWARD: Saturday, January 11th, with the president's permission, Cheney and Rumsfeld call Bandar to Cheney's West Wing office. And the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Myers, is there with a top-secret map of the war plan. And it says "Top Secret. No foreign." "No Foreign" means "no foreigners are supposed to see this."
Putting aside life's little ironies for the nonce, what do you think would keep us safer: denying security clearance to people with relatives in Red China? Or paying careful attention to the warnings of people who have security clearances, like Sibel Edmonds, instead of firing them and slapping eternal gag orders on them?

(Fun facts to know and tell: Hastert's former aide Nancy Dorn, whom the Right claimed was bringing the "tentacles of the PRC into the White House," later became a member of Dick Cheney's staff. She left that post in 2002, when Bush appointed her deputy director of the Office of Budget and Management.)

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