Security Clearance Process

The Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021

Representative Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) sponsored a bill in Congress last month called the Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021, with the primary aim of ferreting out security clearance applicants who have or had membership or affiliations with organizations who spread conspiracy theories and encourage participation in anti-Government activities such as the mob that entered the Capitol on January 6, 2021. How exactly will this bill help do that? It starts with revising the SF-86 (application for National Security Positions) to include questions asking about an individual’s membership in these types of organizations.

Here are the proposed questions to be added:

(1) “Have you ever been a member of, associated with, or knowingly engaged in activities conducted by an organization or movement that spreads conspiracy theories and false information about the United States Government?”.

(2) “Did you participate in the activities occurring at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, or in any similar activity?”

(b) Additional Information.—Each question required to be included in Standard Form 86 under subsection (a) shall include—

(1) an option for the individual filling out such Form to answer each question “Yes” or “No”; and

(2) a separate area for such individual, if such answer is “Yes”, to provide additional information regarding such answer, including the nature of, and reasons for, the individual’s involvement with the organization, movement, or activities described under such question.

The bill is currently waiting for review by the House Oversight and Reform Committee before being voted on by the House of Representatives. If passed it would then be sent over to the Senate.


  1. Is question 2 going to be a standard question on the new SF-86? And an ever question? It would seem that it would have to be as part of the new SF-86. Which is absurd because it would apply to such a minuscule portion of the population.

    Also, doesn’t the current question— “Have you ever attempted to overthrow the United States government by force?”— already subsume this? Even if in theory?

    Perhaps even more troubling is question 1 which targets “conspiracy theories and false information” about the government. Given the decline of social and political discourse in this country it is now fairly routine for a lot of people or organizations to categorize the ideas of others whom they disagree as conspiracy theories or misinformation. Not only that, the Overton Window is not only narrowing but with Covid has been shifting like a boat in a storm.

    Btw, also in regard to proposed question 1, I can’t help but think of all the nerdy middle-aged guys with technical backgrounds working for DoD or in IC who’ve no doubt read a book or two on Deep State killing JFK. And what about the recent Amazon #1 bestseller by RFK Jr.?

    Fortunately, as Marko points out, Congresswoman Murphy’s proposed changes to the SF-86 won’t make it out of her Congressional committee.

  2. Or languishes in committee long enough that it dies from neglect.

    One man’s conspiracy theory could be another man’s settled science.