USTrump officially puts military in charge of federal background checks
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Presidentsigned an executive order late Wednesday officially making the U.S. military responsible for virtually all security background checks for millions of federal workers, the latest step by the administration to tackle a daunting backlog of security clearance cases.
The order calls for the National Background Investigations Bureau, currently under the civilian Office of Personnel Management, to be absorbed by the Department of Defense under a reorganized, and renamed, Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency.
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Though Congress mandated in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that a majority of the investigative bureau's caseload be transferred to the Defense Department in phases, Wednesday’s order lifts the entire bureau -- and the 95 percent of all federal background checks it processes -- and places it all under military authority.
A senior administration official told ABC News the bigger move would be more efficient and effective than “bifurcat[ing]” the background check system between two departments.
In June 2018 the Trump administration identified the security clearance process as one of many targets for drastic government reform.
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“The Administration recognizes that background investigations are critical to enabling national security missions and ensuring public trust in the workforce across the Government,” asaid at the time.
The report noted that the “background investigation inventory” – the cases to be processed – had risen to three-quarters of a million and that the average Top Secret background investigation takes four times as long as it should.
Inin March 2018 National Background Investigations Bureau Director Charles Phalen partially blamed much of the then-ballooning backlog on the 2014 cancellation of a federal contract that stripped the bureau of more than half its investigative force and "increased demand" by the bureau's government customers.
“This is an unsustainable way to do business,” the White House report said.
Federal Judge and civil rights icon Damon Keith has died
Damon Keith, the grandson of slaves and the longest-serving black judge in the nation, was a leading citizen of Detroit — a confidant of elected officials, civic leaders and those who fight for social justice. His impact on Detroit and his fight for equality under the law is visible from the Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University to his chambers in the federal building on Lafayette Avenue to the Wright Museum of African American History, which Keith rescued from closure several years ago. Whitmer in her statement said Keith "stood up for what was right, even if it meant facing attacks and threats from others.
The report argued the military is better positioned to handle the massive caseload and already conducts security clearance evaluations for several agencies.
On Wednesday Phalen told a security conference the backlog has since been reduced by 32 percent, to just under 500,000 cases.
“The numbers are still not where they need to be, but we’ve moved that needle significantly,” Phalen told a security conference, according to a. “We’ve improved wait times 50 percent to 60 percent in many categories, but have some outliers that skew the average.”
The large-scale transfer to the military is happening in the background of ain the White House, where a whistleblower alleges more than two dozen officials, reportedly including Jared Kushner, received high-level clearances over the objections of career security specialists.
Guaido urges opposition onward in Venezuela, defends failed plot to oust Maduro.
Guaido told ABC News change takes time and cautioned critics to be patient. “We would obviously like for Venezuela to have changed already,” Guaido said in an interview. “We would like for the usurpation to have ceased, of course. Not just me but all Venezuelans. This is pending, but it’s under construction.” The ABC News interview came on Thursday amidst one of the most tense and uncertain moments in a landmark week marked by frustration, uncertainty and feverish geopolitical intrigue.
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