Whether Jared Kushner regains his top-secret security clearance is ultimately a decision for his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. That Kushner’s status, like that of scores of his White House colleagues, remains in limbo speaks to the dysfunction of the security-clearance system itself.
It’s useful to distinguish Kushner’s case from the systemic problem. Considering the sheer delinquency of his application for a clearance, it’s not surprising that Kushner still hasn’t received one: His original filing contained at least 100 errors or omissions that he later corrected. Kushner’s habit of taking undisclosed meetings with foreign governments has added to doubts about his trustworthiness.
Though Kushner was given an interim clearance at the start of the administration, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has barred all aides without permanent clearances from continuing to handle top-secret material.
At least 30 administration officials have had their clearances downgraded, including Kushner, but none has lost his or her job. That’s appropriate, though it also illustrates how nepotism complicates good management.
And better management — in the rest of the federal government — is precisely what’s needed to reduce the backlog of more than 700,000 security-clearance applications, up from 570,000 in 2016. The wait for a top-secret security clearance averages 18 months, even if it’s just to renew an existing clearance. Each day, the U.S. falls further behind: A Government Accountability Office investigation found that only 2 percent of federal agencies are meeting government targets for processing security-clearance applications.
FROM AN EDITORIAL ON BLOOMBERG VIEW