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Pentagon Begins ‘Continuous Vetting’ of All Troops for Insider Threats, Extremism; Social Media May Come Next

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Automatic alerts will flag records or activities of concern among all Defense Department personnel.

By Patrick Tucker | 5 October 2021

DEFENSE ONE — All Defense Department personnel are now subject to “continuous vetting” designed to spot extremists and other insider threats, with surveillance of their public social-media postings likely coming soon, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

The announcement follows years of effort to comply with a 2011 executive order to improve on the current security-clearance process, which features an initial investigation but generally no followup for five or more years. The new system will raise flags when new information arrives, such as when a DOD employee is arrested.

It arrives as the department grapples with extremism among uniformed and civilian personnel. Conservatives have accused the Biden administration and senior U.S. military leaders of purging right-wing free speech.

Screening troops’ and DOD employees’ social-media posts for extremist views or behavior will become part of the vetting, said William K. Lietzau, who has led the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency since March 2020. Lietzau said several pilot programs are intended to help determine how useful it might be to track social-media activity in various ways. […]

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