Republican Super PAC Tries to Tie Dem Candidate to “Terror High”

Well, now, here’s an odd story. A Super PAC associated with Paul Ryan seems to have gotten hold of the entire federal security clearance application for a Democratic candidate challenging Dave Brat’s seat in Virginia. This is a sensitive and highly classified document, of course, especially since Abigail Spanberger used to work for the CIA. How on earth did the Super PAC get its hands on this?

The super PAC released a statement on Tuesday…saying that the document was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the United States Postal Service by America Rising, a separate Republican-aligned research firm. “C.L.F. follows the letter of the law in examining any candidate’s background and Ms. Spanberger was no different,” Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for the group, said in the statement. The group also released a portion of the security clearance application, blacking out some personal information.

Huh. A FOIA request. Now, as it turns out, a standard FOIA request form makes it pretty easy to ask for someone’s SF-86 form:

Of course, the fact that you can ask for it doesn’t mean you’ll get it. But in this case, BuzzFeed reports that they did:

BuzzFeed News can confirm that an unredacted copy of the federal security clearance application was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by America Rising, a research group allied with the Republican Party, which then shared it with the Congressional Leadership Fund.

….The decision by USPS to release the unredacted document was unusual, FOIA and security clearance expert Bradley Moss, an attorney with Mark S. Zaid, P.C., told BuzzFeed News. The SF-86 form is an extensive and probing questionnaire that asks applicants for all manner of personal background details….“Someone at the USPS FOIA office is getting fired,” Moss said….“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,” he added.

So it sounds like America Rising submitted a routine FOIA request, and someone in the Post Office screwed up and sent them everything. Either that, or someone in the Post Office doesn’t like Abigail Spanberger and decided to help out her opponent. I imagine the USPS Inspector General will take a look into this and figure out what happened.

The oddest thing about this whole affair is that apparently America Rising was primarily interested in learning that Spanberger was briefly a teacher at the Islamic Saudi Academy, a school in Virginia funded by the Saudi Arabian government. According to the New York Times, “The super PAC validated that suspicion in its response, going on at some length to try to link the school — called “Terror High” in an earlier news article — to terrorist activity.”

Seriously? That’s what they were after? Jesus.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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