Then it gets personal. “In the last seven years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition?” “Has your use of alcohol had a negative impact on your work performance, your professional or personal relationships, your finances, or resulted in intervention by law enforcement/public safety personnel? ” “In the last seven (7) years, have you illegally used any drugs or controlled substances? ” (The form helpful provides a full seven (7) pages for your response.) And it concludes with the ultimate gotcha’ question – “Have you EVER knowingly engaged in any acts of terrorism?” (I have not.)
Detailing every misstep of your adult life in a 127-page form and then handing it to the government feels, well, crazy, but that’s just the beginning. Next up is the in-person interview where you’re joined by FBI agents to review and augment those answers. I don’t care if you’re Mother Teresa or Jason Bourne—you leave that room rattled. After that, the agents spend the next several months calling and personally visiting your friends and family. Being interviewed by an agent is terrifying, and their goal is to find out if you lied.
The process is onerous and scary, but important. The government is trusting you to protect national-security secrets, and it deserves to know if you’ve been in contact with foreign intelligence agents, or if you have crushing debt that could make you more likely to sell information to an adversary. But that’s a hell of a lot of personal information to just hand over to a stranger, let alone to the government, and it’s just as important that it handles it appropriately.
When I started working in the White House, I gladly subjected myself to this process. I was excited to work in government, and I had faith that the FBI would keep my answers secret and confidential. But if I were working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign today, I wouldn’t trust the FBI with my information. And how could you blame me?
FBI Director James Comey has already broken DOJ rules by offering his personal opinion that Clinton and her aides’ handling of classified information was “extremely careless.” In recent days, reporters have quoted countless anonymous FBI sources speculating about Clinton and her team’s guilt. Brett Baier said that he and his team at Fox were able to talk with six sources to confirm that there’s an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. One current FBI agent told The Guardian that “the FBI is Trumpland” and that Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swatch of FBI personnel” who are leaking because they’re pro-Trump. America’s angriest mayor, Rudy Giuliani, has bragged that he’s been receiving investigative information from the FBI since August—a clear violation of FBI policy, and a claim from which Giuliani later backed away. Why shouldn’t Clinton’s aides fear that these same individuals might tell a reporter about their medical records? Or tip off an unfriendly member of Congress about their college drug use before a hearing?