What was Strzok doing investigating for the FBI without a security clearance?
In the intelligence world, a security clearance, especially a really high one, is not only the job requirement, it's the ultimate status object. It shields one from having to answer questions from curious outsiders, and it gives a wide berth for actions that other people are not allowed to do, such as surveillance and spying
So why was Peter Strzok running around without a security clearance, in the nation's top counterintelligence outfit, as its director of counterintelligence?
This is so baffling.
Here is the tweet from investigative reporter Paul Sperry, seconded by Sundance over at Conservative Treehouse:
BREAKING: Strzok himself posed a national security risk while he was investigating Trump & his campaign aides for national security threats. Strzok flunked a 2016 internal polygraph by FBI, yet retained access to TS/SCI classified info & continued to run 2 major espionage probes
According to Sundance, the guy lost his clearance after flunking a routine polygraph exam around January of 2016, well before President Trump was elected. That would have been back when everyone was saying Trump's candidacy was kind of a joke and he was supposedly paying people to cheer him. There were about a dozen Republican candidates and a few Democratic candidates running for president at the time, including Strzok's own reported favorite, John Kasich.
What's unclear is why he flunked his polygraph, which was declared 'out of scope' according to testimony linked on Sundance's site from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. It was also confirmed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier, in a more general way.
Sperry observed that as Strzok supposedly investigated Trump as a national security risk, he himself was a national security risk, unable to so much as pass a polygraph. What makes this so eye-popping is that this guy was all his life an intelligence professional. He knew what polygraphs were and he probably passed a lot of them as he bit and clawed his way to the top of the counterintelligence unit. He gets to the top and thinks he can lie his way out of a polygraph? He couldn't have been that stupid. You never lie in your polygraph, no matter how stupid or incompetent or dishonest you have been. You tell the truth, because flunking the polygraph is un-fixable, you flunk your polygraph and you're out. Anything else you have done will get you some kind of yelling-at but you won't be out.
So why did he flunk his polygraph, and at that pre-Trump date? Just so strange. What it suggests is that Obama-style standards were in place, and James Comey was running things. If Ben Rhodes could be allowed to operate without a top security clearance after he flunked his background investigation (initially), well then anyone else could flunk too and go right on carrying on. It makes one wonder if Strzok knew that (and as chief of CI, he knew a lot of stuff) and realized it didn't really matter, he had seen it before.
In any case, it provides lots of material for congressional investigators to explore. Sundance noted that there was an institutional problem going on, with top officials protecting unworthy members as a means of closing ranks. It could be that, or it could be the Obama end to all standards. In any case, it suggests an agency in need of rebuilding, and that can't happen soon enough.