A Florida congresswoman seeks to awaken the ghost of Joe McCarthy.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, has introduced the “Security Clearance Improvement Act of 2021,” which, if enacted, would impose a loyalty test on federal employees.
Much like McCarthy hunted communists in days of yore, Murphy wants to hunt down followers of the phantom online conspiracy muckraker QAnon.
“The purpose of this bill,” says a summary of Murphy’s legislation, “is to require applicants seeking to obtain — or maintain — a federal security clearance to disclose during their background investigation if they (1) participated in the January 6, 2021, violent assault on the U.S. Capitol or a similar ‘Stop the Steal’ event, or (2) have 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 U.S. government—like QAnon, a group that has been tied to the Capitol attack.”
“The objective of the background investigation — or periodic re-investigation, in the case of an individual who already holds a security clearance — is to examine the individual’s “behavior, activities, and associations” to determine whether the individual is ‘reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S.’”
In the summary, Murphy notes that Americans can have allegiance to groups that practice terrorism or advocate the overthrow of the U.S. government – Antifa comes to mind for many of us, but apparently not Murphy – and still be granted a security clearance.
Yet, she argues, that also means people don’t have to reveal “their membership in, or affiliation with, QAnon or a similar organization.”
“To close this gap,” the summary says, Murphy’s bill would require the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to ask job applicants “whether they have 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 U.S. government.”
Broadly speaking, that definition could apply to Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California and others on the left who for four years trafficked in the “conspiracy theory” that former President Donald Trump conspired with Russian operatives to win the 2016 election.
But Murphy, of course, is not talking about them.
Under Murphy’s measure, people suspected of these nefarious ties would be forced to disclose their role in the organization as well as its location.
Moreover, they would be forced to tell during the security clearance process whether they participated in the tragic Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, or a similar “Stop the Steal” event, and the “precise role” they played in that event.
Mind you, there were numerous “Stop the Steal” rallies across America, not just the rally that led to the unrest at the Capitol.
What’s really troubling, under Murphy’s bill, is that people could be banned from government service, if the job required a security clearance, for actions that were not criminal.
“Even if it does not constitute a criminal offense, attendance at an event designed to overturn the results of a presidential election and prevent the peaceful transfer of power raises serious questions about an applicant’s suitability for a security clearance,” the summary states.
“With this information, government adjudicators will be in a better position to determine whether the applicant is ‘reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and loyal to the U.S’ and thus deserving of a security clearance.”
In an interview with the left-wing Daily Beast, Murphy said, “What we discovered was that there was a shocking number of people involved in that insurrection who seemingly live normal lives, working in government and law enforcement and the military.”
“It’s really dangerous for individuals who hold these types of views to receive a security clearance and access to classified information… if any Americans participated in the Capitol attack, or if they subscribe to these dangerous anti-government views of QAnon, then they have no business being entrusted with our nation’s secrets.”
Murphy, again, has nothing to say about Obama administration officials who cooked up the most dangerous disinformation campaign in modern U.S. history, stoking countless Americans to despise and distrust the government under Trump, with the aid of Democratic lawmakers and liberal pundits.
In short, Murphy essentially is telling Americans that they can only believe what she wants them to believe.
Besides its overt Orwellian nature, Murphy’s bill is likely unconstitutional.
According to Middle Tennessee State University’s Free Speech Center, the Supreme Court in 1972 developed a four-point test to determine whether loyalty tests, such as Murphy wants to impose, are constitutional.
One of those points says employment “may not be conditioned on an oath that one has not engaged in, or will not engage in, protected speech activities,” such as believing and articulating wacky ideas like the president is a tool of the Kremlin.
Another hurdle to clear: “Employment may not be conditioned on an oath denying past or abjuring future associational activities protected by the Constitution.”