As many as one in four applicants who had "significant derogatory information" in their backgrounds may have received top-secret security clearance last year, The Washington Times reported.
Citing a Government Accountability Office audit published in May, the paper reported that some of those receiving clearance had in their files a record of foreign influence or a criminal background. Retired Gen. James Clapper, undersecretary of defense for intelligence, agreed to implement a series of reforms recommended by the report, according to the Times.
"At present, we’re basically operating on faith. This shouldn’t be a faith-based process," Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., told the paper.
Eshoo said the flaws in the system have created risks to national security.
Such risks were highlighted in the case of Noureddine Malki, a naturalized U.S. citizen who worked for the military as a translator in Iraq. The paper noted that Malki was later found to have taken home classified U.S. documents and had been in "unauthorized phone and e-mail contact ... with Sunni sheiks in the Sunni Triangle — individuals from whom the defendant admitted taking bribes," according to a Feb. 7, 2007, pretrial memorandum.