Security Clearances for Retired Officials

The Hatch Act is a Federal law that bars active Federal employees from acting in politically partisan fashion from the pulpit of their official positions. President Joe Biden’s (D) Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre is frequently cited for violating it.

Stewart Baker, very late of the National Security Agency’s General Counsel, and Michael Ellis, ex-National Security Council Senior Director for Intelligence Programs, want to extend the Hatch Act (presumably with sterner consequences for violation) to retired Federal intelligence community employees.

As part of an effort to depoliticize the intelligence community, lawmakers should extend the Hatch Act’s restrictions to senior intelligence officials who continue to hold security clearances after they’ve left government.

Such an extension of the Hatch Act would be a good step, but it falls far short.

All persons—not just from intel—who leave government employ, or the employment of government suppliers of any sort, whether they leave through retirement or in order to “seek other opportunities,” no longer have the Need to Know that is a Critical Criterion for having a clearance. These folks should have their clearances revoked as of COB of their last day on the job.

[W]hen senior officials enter the private sector, they routinely retain security clearances as a perk….

It’s especially the case that matters pertaining to national security—security clearances, for instance—are far too important to be considered mere perks.

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