Let’s Pull This Thread

RICHMOND, VA - MAY 29, 2018: Abigail Spanberger puts on a microphone ahead of her Democratic primary debate against Dan Ward Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Richmond, VA. (Photo by... RICHMOND, VA - MAY 29, 2018: Abigail Spanberger puts on a microphone ahead of her Democratic primary debate against Dan Ward Tuesday, May 29, 2018 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Richmond, VA. (Photo by Julia Rendleman for the Washington Post) MORE LESS
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August 29, 2018 11:42 am
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Fascinating story out from the Times yesterday.

Abigail Spanberger, a former CIA case officer who is running against Republican Dave Bratt in Virginia’s 7th District. That’s normally a fairly Republican district. But it’s currently rated a tie. Spanberger recently learned that the Congressional Leadership Fund, an outside group tied to Speaker Ryan had a copy of her SF-86, the highly detailed disclosure form you fill out to get a security clearance. The CLF said they got it from America Rising, another GOP outside group which focuses on oppo research. They said they got it through a FOIA request.

The problem is this is not a document that ever gets released via FOIA, certainly not in an unredacted form. This is a form where you have to disclose everything: friends, family members, debts, personal indiscretions. It contains highly private information.

At the time she was applying to work at the CIA she also briefly worked for the US Post Office’s security service. So they had a copy too. And that’s apparently where America Rising got it.

The Times story left unclear whether it was really true that American Rising had successfully gotten the SF-86 from the Post Office. But a separate article from Buzzfeed this morning appears to confirm that they did. As national security lawyer Bradley Moss told Buzzfeed, ““SF-86 paperwork is categorically privacy-protected and to my knowledge has never been released through FOIA to a third party absent a privacy waiver.”

So what happened here? Was this just a clerical oversight? It’s possible. Stranger things have happened. But given Trump administration behavior I would say that political interference is a high likelihood and needs to be assumed until some actual investigation proves otherwise.

What the Republican group had seized on in the file is that Spanberger briefly taught at a Virginia school funded by the Saudi government which they’ve dubbed ‘Terror High’ and have already used in push-polls from the district. (Spanberger was a CIA case office dealing with counter-terrorism work.)

Spanberger only found out about this when a reporter approached her with questions about the document and showed it to her. He’d gotten it from the Congressional Leadership Fund.

This is exactly the kind of maneuver you’d expect a law-breaking administration to be doing in advance of a tough election. So far, the Post Office has declined to respond to either the Times or Buzzfeed.

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