By Paige McGlauflin
WASHINGTON – The director of the National Background Investigations Bureau told members of a House Oversight subcommittee on Wednesday that he had “never seen that level of mistakes” on a security clearance form in relation to Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner.
Charles S. Phalen Jr. was testifying to the Oversight subcommittee on Government Operations about transferring the backlog of 700,000 security clearance forms to the Department of Defense when he was prompted by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.) on the Standard Form 86 (SF-86).
“Can you recall if there’s ever been an applicant having to submit four addenda detailing 100 errors and omissions, being able to maintain their security clearance once those errors and omissions had been identified?” Krishnamoorthi asked.
“I have not seen the breadth of all the applications, but I have never seen that level of mistakes,” Phalen replied.
Military personnel as well as government contractors and employees who will be working in national security positions must fill out the SF-86 form. Falsifying information on the form can result in being charged with a federal crime and serving up to five years in prison if convicted. Kushner had submitted four addenda listing over 100 errors or omissions, including meeting a Russian lawyer with Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in 2016.
Phalen also had noted earlier that his organization did not review Kushner’s application. “I don’t know the particular cases you’re talking about,” he said. “Because we had no visibility in our organization to any of those activities. Those were done by other organizations.”
Phalen noted that mistakes are made on the form, but said that not all of them are serious.
“If it’s something simple like a middle initial being wrong or I got the dates wrong of the years I was in high school, not a big deal,” Phalen said. “But if I forgot to mention a significant felony conviction that would be far more substantive and we would want to go pursue that a lot further.”
Phalen noted that the SF-86, which he described as “kludgy,” is currently being evaluated to minimize the number of inconsistencies.
“We’re working together with other elements of the government to build a new electronic application form that is far more user- friendly and will lead to less errors on the front end, and even perhaps do some fact checking on behalf of the applicant during it.”
The number of errors on Kushner’s security clearance forms are unprecedented, says the director of the Background Investigations Bureau pic.twitter.com/lNqn2x4ft2
— Bridge Project (@BridgeProject21) October 11, 2017