Forget the leakers, let's crack down on the gays

The White House quietly rewrites the rules on security clearances.


Tim Grieve
March 15, 2006 9:33PM (UTC)

Security clearances were very much in the news last year as Democrats tried, unsuccessfully, to get Karl Rove's revoked after it became clear that he had leaked Valerie Plame's identity to several reporters. But there was another security clearance story out there that didn't get so much attention: While the rest of us were worried about leaks from the White House, the White House was apparently worrying about the security risk posed by . . . homosexuals.

As the Associated Press reports, George W. Bush signed off in December on language changes in the rules for security clearances that sure seem aimed at making it easier for the government to deny clearances to gay men and lesbians. The old rules said that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance." Under the new rules, a security clearance cannot be denied "solely" on the basis of sexual orientation.

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A spokesman for the National Security Council tells the AP that the language change "was not intended to alter the way sexual orientation is treated." But if that's the case, why was the language changed? If the White House has an answer for that question, it's not in the AP report.

Gay advocacy groups apparently discovered the language change in a document distributed on Dec. 29, without any public fanfare, by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. So far as we know, Hadley isn't gay -- he's married with two kids -- but maybe he shouldn't have a security clearance anyway; it has been suggested that Hadley was the administration official who leaked Valerie Plame's identity to Bob Woodward and Robert Novak.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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