How Can a White Supremacist Have a Security Clearance?

It's more complicated than one might think.

A PBS Frontline-ProPublica report out this morning makes a declaration and asks a question: “He is a Member of a Violent White Supremacist Group; So Why is He Working for a Defense Contractor with a Security Clearance?

There likely isn’t such a thing as a “typical” violent white extremist in America in 2018. Still, Michael Miselis — a University of California, Los Angeles doctoral student with a U.S. government security clearance to work on sensitive research for a prominent defense contractor — makes for a pretty unusual case.

For months, ProPublica and FRONTLINE have been working to identify the white supremacists at the center of violent demonstrations across the country, including the infamous Unite the Right rally last August in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rise Above Movement, a Southern California group that expresses contempt for Muslims, Jews, and immigrants, became a focus of that effort. ProPublica and FRONTLINE were able to quickly identify a number of the group’s leaders, and find evidence that put them in the middle of violence in Charlottesville and Berkeley, California, among other places.

But one seeming member of RAM was harder to nail down. In video shot in Charlottesville, a bearded, husky man is seen in a red Make America Great Again hat with his hands wrapped in tape that came in handy for the brawling that occurred that day. During one encounter, the unidentified man in the red hat pushed an African-American protester to the ground and began pounding on him, video of the episode shows; moments later, a known RAM member choked and bloodied a pair of female counter-protesters. The possible RAM member also had turned up in video shot during hours of combat at a Trump rally in Berkeley, as well. Wearing protective goggles to ward off pepper spray, the man fought alongside RAM members, wrestling one protester to the ground and punching others.

Ultimately, ProPublica and FRONTLINE determined the man in the violent footage was Miselis, a 29-year-old pursuing a Ph.D. in UCLA’s aerospace engineering program. Miselis was identified using video footage and social media posts, and reporters confirmed his identity in an encounter with him outside his home. In interviews, a number of California law enforcement officials said Miselis was a member of RAM.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Miselis works as a systems engineer for Northrop Grumman, the giant defense contractor with a plant in Redondo Beach, California.

When approached by ProPublica and FRONTLINE in front of his home in Lawndale, a small city south of Los Angeles, Miselis said he “didn’t know anything” about what happened in Charlottesville.

“I think you got the wrong guy,” he said before driving off in his car.

Miselis did not respond to questions about his involvement with RAM. He did not answer additional questions sent by email.

First off, while both PBS and ProPublica are first-rate news organizations, I’m a little uncomfortable with their putting out a report that a non-public figure is a member of a white supremacist group without substantial proof. Miselis denies that he was at Charlottesville and seems to deny being part of RAM. Apparently, journalists and law enforcement officials believe otherwise.

It’s obvious why Northrop Grumman would want someone “pursuing a Ph.D. in UCLA’s aerospace engineering program” on their team. So, the question is How can he have a security clearance?  It’s not clear from the report whether it’s merely SECRET or extends to TOP SECRET or even SENSITIVE COMPARTMENTED INFORMATION material. Regardless, it’s actually not at all clear that a member of RAM would be ineligible.

The most recent update of the National Security Adjudicative Guidelines I can locate, dated June 2017, lists thirteen areas of consideration:

GUIDELINE A: ALLEGIANCE TO THE UNITED STATES
GUIDELINE B: FOREIGN INFLUENCE
GUIDELINE C: FOREIGN PREFERENCE
GUIDELINE D: SEXUAL BEHAVIOR
GUIDELINE E: PERSONAL CONDUCT
GUIDELINE F: FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS
GUIDELINE G: ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION
GUIDELINE H: DRUG INVOLVEMENT AND SUBSTANCE MISUSE
GUIDELINE I: PSYCHOLOGICAL CONDITIONS
GUIDELINE J: CRIMINAL CONDUCT
GUIDELINE K: HANDLING PROTECTED INFORMATION
GUIDELINE L: OUTSIDE ACTIVITIES
GUIDELINE M: USE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY

While RAM members may well be in violation of Guidelines E, I, and J they wouldn’t inherently be. While you’d think being a member of a white supremacist group would violate the personal conduct guideline, it doesn’t obviously, since the criteria there mostly have to do with candor in filling out the clearance materials and trustworthiness to safeguard information. The conduct in which Miselis is alleged to have engaged at Charlottesville is criminal but there’s no reason to think that he’s been charged with a crime. And, while many of these people have disqualifying psychological conditions, I wouldn’t think participating in RAM protests would flag it.

The only issue that I see, then, is a rather vague catch-all in the personal conduct guideline: “engaging in activities which, if known, could affect the person’s
personal, professional, or community standing.” Presumably, being a known white supremacist would have that effect.

Relatedly, given that Northrop Grumman almost certainly employs African-Americans and Hispanics in its Redondo Beach office, one would think that non-clearance human resources policies would make the employment of a known white supremacist untenable.

Update July 8, 2018 (Doug Mataconis): Miselis has been dismissed by Northrop Grumman.

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Government, National Security, Race and Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. reid says:

    I don’t know the timelines, but it’s possible he got his clearance before getting involved in all of this. The re-investigation should be interesting. If the allegations are true regarding the violent behavior in particular, there’s no way he should get a clearance. Simply being a member of RAM (or the communist party) is a grayer area. If he leads a sort of double life, maybe the investigator didn’t find out about any of it.

    In any case, I’m sure there are also a lot of non-white students in the UCLA program. Fun to find out that the guy in the next cubicle is a white supremacist.

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  2. Barry says:

    James: “I’m a little uncomfortable with their putting out a report that a non-public figure is a member of a white supremacist group without substantial proof. ”

    Perhaps he shouldn’t have committed numerous crimes in public?

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  3. Gabrielle says:

    @reid: Actually, his PI (the professor in charge of his lab) is Chinese. At least three of his classmates are Chinese. Unless he’s such a loving guy and it’s clear that this is a mistake, he’s in for a bad day at the office…

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  4. Andy says:

    Speaking as a former security manager

    Assuming:
    – The allegations in the article are true
    – He actually has a security clearance

    Then his access to classified information (assuming he has that as well – a clearance doesn’t grant access) would be pulled pending an investigation.

    It’s important to keep in mind that clearances at the SECRET level are not based on comprehensive investigations – they are largely based on checks of various criminal and financial databases. So someone who is involved in an extremist group would probably not be flagged unless there was something in one of those databases.

    Finally, this activity would fall under Guideline A:

    Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:
    (a) involvement in, support of, training to commit, or advocacy of any act of sabotage, espionage, treason, terrorism, or sedition against the United States of America;
    (b) association or sympathy with persons who are attempting to commit, or who are committing, any of the above acts;
    (c) association or sympathy with persons or organizations that advocate, threaten, or use force or violence, or use any other illegal or unconstitutional means, in an effort to:

    (1) overthrow or influence the government of the United States or any state or local government;
    (2) prevent Federal, state, or local government personnel from performing their official duties;
    (3) gain retribution for perceived wrongs caused by the Federal, state, or local government;
    (4) prevent others from exercising their rights under the Constitution or laws of the United States or of any state.

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  5. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gabrielle: I predict a resignation very soon.

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  6. Todd says:

    The fact that he apparently denies involvement could actually make his security clearance more problematic. As James pointed out, some of those other criteria about conduct and associations could be at least somewhat ambiguous. But the fastest way to lose (or be denied) a security clearance is to have information come to light that you did not disclose which could conceivably be used to blackmail you.

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  7. James Pearce says:

    Miselis was identified using video footage and social media posts, and reporters confirmed his identity in an encounter with him outside his home.

    Surely, in Donald Trump’s America, these tactics will only be used on white supremacists.

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  8. al Ameda says:

    This – this era in American politics – is what the end of Reconstruction must have felt like.

    To be sure, it’s a great time to be a self-proclaimed White victim of Liberalism.

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  9. Stormy Dragon says:

    reporters confirmed his identity in an encounter with him outside his home

    When approached by ProPublica and FRONTLINE in front of his home in Lawndale, a small city south of Los Angeles, Miselis said he “didn’t know anything” about what happened in Charlottesville.

    “I think you got the wrong guy,” he said before driving off in his car.

    Are these two quotes describing two separate encounters? Because if the first is supposed to be a summary of the second, I don’t see at all how that confirms his identity as the guy in the video.

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  10. James Joyner says:

    @Barry:

    James: “I’m a little uncomfortable with their putting out a report that a non-public figure is a member of a white supremacist group without substantial proof. ”

    Perhaps he shouldn’t have committed numerous crimes in public?

    That a guy who looks like him committed crimes isn’t definitive proof that he committed those crimes. He’s quoted denying involvement. This will now, and probably forever, be the first thing that pops up when people Google his name. I hope PBS and ProPublica has more corroboration of his identity than the story lays out.

    @Andy: Yes, I agree that the criminal interference with counter-protestors would fall under that provision as well. I’m not sure that mere association with the group would.

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  11. Stormy Dragon says:

    @James Joyner:

    Especially given this:

    For months, ProPublica and FRONTLINE have been working to identify the white supremacists at the center of violent demonstrations across the country, including the infamous Unite the Right rally last August in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    I’m glad someone is identifying these people and publicly shaming them, but I’m not sure a news organization, particularly a tax payer funded one, should be the organization doing that. This seems to be crossing the line from journalism into activism.

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  12. Andy says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I have some reservations about this kind of activity. While I personally don’t mind seeing extremists exposed, I’m concerned about normalizing the “outing” of people, the real potential for misidentification (especially for people with the same name). I don’t want to see doxing mainstreamed, but it’s probably inevitable.

    As for misidentification, perhaps the government should require that everyone have a unique name similar to usernames for websites. I’ll claim “Andy” here and now. All the other Andys in the world can append numbers.

    @James Joyner: In my experience, it depends on the nature of the group and the depth and level of involvement by an individual.

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  13. Tlaloc says:

    @Andy:

    This. If he is a white supremacist he fails Guideline A in *numerous* ways.

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  14. Todd says:

    @James Joyner: While I understand that caution should be taken when it comes to these type of situations, where a false identification could follow someone around for years. I am actually a bit disturbed that while you acknowledge that ProPublica and PBS are both “first rate news organizations” you then (with no supporting evidence) imply that they may have named this individual without being sure of his identity.

    Examples such as this are why it’s so frustrating to read about polls about how most Americans “don’t trust the media”. In the case of many mainstream “quality” organizations, much of that lack of trust is based purely on feelings inspired by the decades long right-wing propaganda campaign in this country.

    If this was reported on some Internet “news” source none of us had ever heard of (or which had a history of publishing questionable information), then yes, taking it with a big grain of salt would be a reasonable perspective. But if an organization has a reputation for adhering to journalistic standards, we should be willing to afford them the level of credibility that comes along with that sort of history.

    We currently live in a country where the President of the United States, and the propaganda networks that support him, tell (objectively easily disprovable) lies on a regular basis. When people who consider themselves rational start to question news organizations that do have a history of practicing actual responsible journalism all we are doing is enabling the propagandists … if all facts are debatable and all truth is in the eye of the beholder, then whoever has the loudest megaphone defines reality for all of us.

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  15. James Joyner says:

    @Todd:

    I am actually a bit disturbed that while you acknowledge that ProPublica and PBS are both “first rate news organizations” you then (with no supporting evidence) imply that they may have named this individual without being sure of his identity.

    Examples such as this are why it’s so frustrating to read about polls about how most Americans “don’t trust the media”. In the case of many mainstream “quality” organizations, much of that lack of trust is based purely on feelings inspired by the decades long right-wing propaganda campaign in this country.

    I’m not crying “Fake news!” here. I’m merely acknowledging that, by their own account—high in the story—they went and confronted him and he told them they had the wrong guy. That should have been followed by more information as to why they’re positive they have the right guy. It’s really, really important that they do, considering that this story is going to ruin his life.

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  16. Todd says:

    @James Joyner: If we acknowledge that these are credible news organizations, then it should be implicit that if they didn’t have concrete evidence to support their claim, they wouldn’t have published his name.

    The fact that they also published his “I think you got the wrong guy” quote, if anything, makes it more (not less) likely that whatever evidence they do have that he is a member of this group, and was at that rally, is airtight. They are not going to publish that quote if they still had any doubts themselves.

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  17. James Joyner says:

    @Todd: One would hope. It was, really, that quote that had me questioning their story. Once we have the subject of the expose denying the story, we really should have gotten “But PBS and ProPublica confirmed his identity through steps 1, 2, 3, and 4.” That we didn’t was a red flag. I acknowledged their reputation for good journalism in that paragraph because I generally find them trustworthy and expect they did their homework. But the write-up here was just bizarre.

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  18. James Pearce says:

    @Todd:

    If we acknowledge that these are credible news organizations, then it should be implicit that if they didn’t have concrete evidence to support their claim, they wouldn’t have published his name.

    It should be implicit that if they were credible news organizations, they wouldn’t be doxxing a dude for the purposes of siccing the mob on them.

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  19. Todd says:

    @James Joyner: I suppose time will tell.

    One other thought … is it possible that due to the violent nature of these groups, publicly revealing all the details about how they confirmed his identity could put other people in danger?

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  20. Todd says:

    @James Pearce: I am not a fan of internet mob “justice” myself. But while free speech should be protected from repercussions by the government, I see little wrong with efforts to ensure that those who engage in activities that most reasonable people would find abhorrent are subjected to potential social and even professional consequences.

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  21. Kit says:

    I’m a little uncomfortable with their putting out a report that a non-public figure is a member of a white supremacist group without substantial proof.

    Do you think that in the whole history of Fox News, even a single viewer ever watched a segment and thought: I just hope they can prove all of this! Or that one of their journalists, upon discovering that he accidently aired something true, was tempted to wail and tear his clothes?

    Not two weeks ago, we were backpedaling over the Time cover photo, a minor error that didn’t even undercut the story. I’m sick of the Left feeling the obligation to write to the standards of a formal mathematical proof, where a single error brings the whole work crashing down. The truth matters, but errors happen. Liberals must simply recognise that the best is the enemy of the good.

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  22. James Joyner says:

    @Todd: A fair point.

    @Kit: Neither TIME magazine nor PBS are supposed to be “the left.” In this particular case, I don’t think there was an ideological agenda. I just think the Intro was rather poorly written. The inclusion of the accused’s denial should have been followed with an explanation for why the reporters were sure. I presume they were sure. But I don’t know why. Given that this report will ruin his life and career, I want to know that they got it right.

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  23. Todd says:

    @James Pearce: p.s. I make a big distinction between stories like this which are published by reputable news organizations who have done months of research, and people whose supposed identities are revealed by the amateur detectives of twitter or facebook.

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  24. James Pearce says:

    @Todd:

    I see little wrong with efforts to ensure that those who engage in activities that most reasonable people would find abhorrent are subjected to potential social and even professional consequences.

    I’m tempted to agree with you, but I’m old enough to remember when “most reasonable people” would find my Mom’s lesbianism to be so abhorrent that they felt completely justified subjecting her to social and professional consequences, and they too were self-righteous about it, too.

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  25. Gustopher says:

    Relatedly, given that Northrop Grumman almost certainly employs African-Americans and Hispanics in its Redondo Beach office, one would think that non-clearance human resources policies would make the employment of a known white supremacist untenable.

    Ignoring the security clearance issues for a moment, as this concluding paragraph does…

    Lots of people have a work-personality and a real personality, and compartmentalize their life.

    So long as he is respectful of his colleagues at the office, and he does his job, does his employer have any right to dictate what he does outside of the office? Whether he smokes pot, adopts cats, dresses up as a cat, or protests the existence of brown people, it’s none of his employer’s business.

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  26. James Joyner says:

    @Gustopher:

    Lots of people have a work-personality and a real personality, and compartmentalize their life.

    So long as he is respectful of his colleagues at the office, and he does his job, does his employer have any right to dictate what he does outside of the office? Whether he smokes pot, adopts cats, dresses up as a cat, or protests the existence of brown people, it’s none of his employer’s business.

    The problem is, now that he’s been outed in the national media, that compartmentalization is no longer possible. His colleagues will naturally view him as toxic, rendering him unemployable.

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  27. MarkedMan says:

    @James Joyner:

    That should have been followed by more information as to why they’re positive they have the right guy.

    Are we reading the same article? The one you linked to says that several law enforcement officials confirmed his involvement in RAM, a group that only has a few dozen members. They also had this:

    However, interviews with current and former Northrop employees, as well as an internal email, make clear the company knows of Miselis’ actions in Charlottesville and involvement with RAM.

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  28. MarkedMan says:

    @James Pearce: Pearce I see you are taking a break from being outraged that high school wrestlers accused a Tea Party Republican of covering up the sexual abuse of minors and are now outraged that a white supremacist is getting publicly outed. Is this the part where you advise us that focusing on trivialities like violent white supremacists is just playing into Trump’s master plan?

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  29. MikeyParks says:

    I believe Hillary still has her security clearance. Her crimes are real, not just an unsavory association.

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  30. MarkedMan says:

    Despite my comments above, I’m more aligned with James than Tod. Or more correctly, more aligned with James’ POV, as I think he might have misread the article.

    I really don’t care if it is the NYT or NPR or the BBC, all real journalists need to show their work or explain very clearly why they are not. Trusting a news organization doesn’t mean you accept unsubstantiated assertions, it means you accept it when they say a “high government official told us that…” without naming the official. You are trusting them that the conversation happened, that the quote is accurate, and that the high government official is in a real position to know.

    This distinction matters. Fox is not a trustworthy news source so when Hannity tells us that “people in the administration told me…” it means nothing and should not be given any weight. And I know that there are certain parts of Fox News that claim they are real journalists but let’s face it, the “I’m the only virgin in the whore house” schtick is long past it’s sell by date.

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  31. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Is this the part where you advise us that focusing on trivialities like violent white supremacists is just playing into Trump’s master plan?

    No, this is where I tell you doing crap like this even to white supremacists is wrong. I’m a liberal, so I value free speech, civil rights, due process, all that messy stuff that makes it difficult for me to justify trying to ruin a person’s life because they’re something as mundane as a racist.

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  32. James Joyner says:

    @MarkedMan: I noted the police accusation in the OP but I don’t take police as particularly reliable. I didn’t note the second passage on first reading; I’m not sure whether it’s been added since or I just missed it.

    @MarkedMan: The first paragraph of my commentary here was more disclaimer than accusation. The way the story was written made it seem like they were running with it despite the accused’s denial. Given the gravity of the story, I was uneasy.

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  33. Mark Webb says:

    How could Obama?

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem is, now that he’s been outed in the national media, that compartmentalization is no longer possible. His colleagues will naturally view him as toxic, rendering him unemployable.

    How do his colleagues feel about anyone in a MAGA hat?

    White Supremacy is — sadly — not a fringe position in society. Were going to end up with a significant chunk of Real America that is unemployable.

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  35. Andy says:

    @Gustopher:

    So long as he is respectful of his colleagues at the office, and he does his job, does his employer have any right to dictate what he does outside of the office? Whether he smokes pot, adopts cats, dresses up as a cat, or protests the existence of brown people, it’s none of his employer’s business.

    Normally I’d agree, but in this case, he has a position which requires a government security clearance. As part of that, his employer has certain legal responsibilities to the government to ensure employees in clearance positions are treated accordingly. That doesn’t mean his employer gets to nose in his business or personal affairs, but if the employer receives credible information about activities that could question a person’s fitness for access to national security information, then the employer has to report it.

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  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Joyner:

    They apparently have NG employees on record confirming the accusations AND confirming that NG was already aware. The negative PR campaign has ramped up to 100. If he’s still employed by next Friday I’ll be amazed.

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  37. Todd says:

    @MarkedMan: To be clear, I’m not at all implying that I automatically trust all (or even most) mainstream journalists with no reservations or questions. Our entire news media, even outside the bullshit propagandists has a real problem with sometimes trying too hard to get a story “first” instead of always taking the time to get it right.

    What I am concerned with is that we have to be able to apply a credibility filter to our information consumption … and for that filter to work properly, it does mean that some organizations and sources will/should be afforded a presumption of truth telling; while with other entities (such as anybody associated with the current White House), it probably does make sense to assume they’re lying unless there is credible evidence to the contrary. But in both instances, it’s based on an objective view of their history.

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  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    It doesn’t work that way. His employer certainly doesn’t have a position with respect to dictating his off-premise behavior, but it DOES have a position with respect to the effect that behavior has on its reputation and/or business activities. In this instance, it introduces further problems with respect to security clearances and the constraints imposed upon government contractors.

    Short version: your employer shouldn’t fire you for being a pot user, but it CAN (and I’d argue should) fire you when/if that pot use embarrasses it or impacts its business.

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  39. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    How do his colleagues feel about anyone in a MAGA hat?

    White Supremacy is — sadly — not a fringe position in society.

    That gets a little tricky. I would agree that racist attitudes are widespread in society, though the vast majority of people who hold these attitudes don’t perceive themselves as racist. Actual white supremacist groups–the kind flagged by watchdog organizations like SPLC and ADL–are to a large extent on the fringe. That doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, but they most definitely are nonmainstream (though there are a few figures–Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, and Mike Cernovich come to mind–who skirt the boundaries). The amount of Americans who are active members of such groups is substantially smaller than the number who hold casually racist views.

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  40. Todd says:

    @James Pearce: “… something as mundane as a racist”

    But in this case, it’s not just “mundane” racism. This is a person who (allegedly) participated in violent demonstrations that had the stated purpose of trying to intimidate marginalized communities. If we think there shouldn’t be any (social) consequences for something that, then I fear we are taking the concept of unfettered “free speech” just a little too far.

    Don’t get me wrong, as I stated in my other comment, I am very concerned about the consequences (for society) of these internet “mobs” and the forms of “justice” that they often demand … and how frequently they make those demands based on the flimsiest of evidence. But even with that caution, I don’t think we can be absolutist about it. There have to be lines, and we have to be willing to say when they’ve been crossed.

    p.s. as to this comment @James Pearce: I do see where you’re coming from, and I am fully aware of how difficult it can often be to make these sort of judgement calls in the moment. However, that being said, I am fairly confident that unlike with your mother’s lesbianism, there is unlikely to be a time in our future where historians look back at our present day and lament “we really should have treated those violent racists a little better”.

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  41. DrDaveT says:

    While you’d think being a member of a white supremacist group would violate the personal conduct guideline, it doesn’t obviously, since the criteria there mostly have to do with candor in filling out the clearance materials and trustworthiness to safeguard information.

    You know better than that, James. As with (historically) homosexuality, the problem is not the ethical status of the individual per se, but the potential for blackmail. Being potentially blackmailable is grounds for losing a security clearance, whether that’s because you are a closeted homosexual, a philanderer, or a white supremacist who beat the crap out of people on national television.

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  42. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    So long as he is respectful of his colleagues at the office, and he does his job, does his employer have any right to dictate what he does outside of the office?

    As someone who has had to deal with these types of issues in the workplace from time to time, it’s not as easy as that. This guy is an avowed racist. He is going to come across coworkers who are people of color, who are immigrants, who are of non-christian. If one such person complains of treatment by this guy and gives me a he said / she said situation I have a clear path – I believe them. I can look at his public record and see that he espouses contempt and hatred for people like them and in fact committed violence on people purely because of their skin color. This isn’t a criminal investigation where nothing needs to be done if we don’t have absolute proof.

    And there is another issue. You can’t let him ever have any authority over someone he has deemed automatically inferior, even on a peer basis. That makes him less valuable as an employee. Not worth keeping around.

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  43. James Pearce says:

    @Todd:

    This is a person who (allegedly) participated in violent demonstrations that had the stated purpose of trying to intimidate marginalized communities.

    Stipulating the awfulness of this dude and his agenda, I still have to stand up for the liberal world order. We have a process already worked out for dealing with his alleged crimes, which should also resolve the security clearance situation.

    It does not include these kinds of harassment campaigns, nor should it.

    (And I do realize calling something like this a “harassment campaign” may be a little hyperbolic, but the journalists working on this story have to know the scrutiny this guy is get and they have to know that harassment is going to be part of it. Might it even be the point?)

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  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Joyner:

    Neither TIME magazine nor PBS are supposed to be “the left.”

    I don’t know what part of the conservative echosphere you grew up in, but most of the righties that I’ve hung with for about 50 or so years have always considered both TIME and PBS as both leftist and subversive. But it all depends on who you hang with. Maybe living on the left coast colors our view more.

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  45. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: Once the criminal activity came to light, sure. But at that point there would be other causes for termination of the clearance. I wouldn’t think membership in a tiny group nobody had ever heard of would fall into that category per se.

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: From even a sane conservative perspective, most mainstream coastal outlets have a left bias, especially on social issues. I was just responding to @Kit‘s complaint that “the left” is held to a high standard of probity while Fox News and their ilk get away with propaganda.

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  46. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    Once the criminal activity came to light, sure.

    NO. Really, no. Blackmail is only possible before the criminal activity “comes to light” — there’s no point to it afterward, because the whole point is to threaten exposure. You can’t be blackmailed for things everyone already knows.

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  47. James Joyner says:

    @DrDaveT: Sure. But the investigators don’t know you’re blackmailable before it comes to light. The question at hand was whether someone with white supremacist leanings but who hasn’t committed a crime could hold a clearance.

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  48. DrDaveT says:

    @James Joyner:

    The question at hand was whether someone with white supremacist leanings but who hasn’t committed a crime could hold a clearance.

    Ah, I see the disconnect. I had thought that the question at hand was whether someone who was denying that it was really them in the Charlottesville footage could hold a clearance. This is someone who has not even been accused of a crime, but is still potentially blackmailable — if it’s them.

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