This is the first feedback I got on Facebook that questioned whether it was a good idea to require POTUS to pass a security check. But in many states, this is a requirement for ALL government employees, even school teachers. How does the most important office in the country get exempted from ALL security checks, all conflict of interest laws, and all ethics laws?? The honor system stopped working in 2016 — big time. What do YOU think?
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Sheryl Canter Robin Alperstein — do you know how this could be done? Or how we could start to push for it?
Robin Alperstein I don’t like the idea of having to pass an FBI security check first. I think it could really be abused.
Sheryl Canter I don’t see how. Could you please explain? If someone volunteers to run for the office of president of the United States, why shouldn’t they submit to a security check to see if they are fit for that office as a prerequisite for running? How could this be abused? The submission for the check is something the person running for office volunteers for by virtue of deciding s/he wants the job.
Robin Alperstein Random candidate applies; FBI decides to tank candidate’s chances by running extreme background check, or the info leaks as oppo research.
Sheryl Canter That presumes that the FBI is corrupt and the security clearance process is corrupt. We can’t operate on the assumption that our core government processes are corrupt or the whole thing falls apart. If the security clearance process is corrupt, why have one at all?
We’re already doomed as a country if we can’t trust the FBI to more-or-less act with integrity (as far as possible given that humans are involved and humans are fallible). We have to trust the system. We can’t trust individuals. The honor system is how we got Trump.
We are in a situation now where POTUS could never in a million years pass a security check, and yet he has access to our country’s most sensitive secrets. Something is very wrong there.
Which error is worse — a Trump situation? Or the much less likely situation (since so many more people would be involved) of a conspiracy to tank a particular candidate?
Robin Alperstein I disagree that a security check is the appropriate gating point for a presidential candidate. I don’t presume the process would be corrupt but I think that putting the ability to even run in the hands of people in an agency, which does include the possibility for abuse, and not in the hands of the voters, is not appropriate. You clearly disagree, and that’s fine. I’m not debating you.
Sheryl Canter I like the discussion; I want to hear your perspective.
If candidacy isn’t the appropriate gating point, then what is?
Problem: We should not have a POTUS who could not pass a security check. Agreed?
Robin Alperstein Interesting question. From a kind of common sense perspective I would think the answer is yes. I don’t know what the solution is. At any rate I think the Constitution would need to be amended to add qualifications for president. Pass a security check seems a strange thing to put in a Constitution.
Sheryl Canter Additional qualifications, yes… I see what you mean about a security check being too much of a judgment call in the hands of humans. But what would be a more objective measure of integrity?
We could have eliminated Trump with a Civics test.
What objective things does the FBI look at in a security check?
Robin Alperstein I don’t actually know, besides drug use, alcoholism, mental instability, criminal record. Also I think there are different levels — for example, the security check required to be able to become an FBI officer or CIA agent or federal prosecutor might be different than what’s require to have a top-level security clearance. I have no clue what that entails.
Sheryl Canter Or… (I used to be a statistician)…
We could do a multivariate analysis of what correlates with security risk and choose the additional qualifications that way. The “Money Ball” approach. :)
Conflict of interest laws need to be passed.
Releasing tax returns for past 10 years may be enough. A dishonest person will be a tax cheat. If Americans could have seen Trump’s tax returns, he never would have been elected president.
Trump’s tax returns also would reveal his indebtedness to Russian oligarchs.
So that was the back-and-forth. Yes or no? Should a security check be a requirement for running for president, or would it create too create a potential for abuse?