House passes bill to prevent security 'insider threats'

The House passed legislation on Monday to mandate the Department of Homeland Security to establish a program to identify and mitigate insider threats from rogue employees.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the bill's author, gave examples of Edward Snowden releasing classified information about national surveillance programs, U.S. Army P.F.C. Bradley Manning providing classified documents to WikiLeaks, and contractor Aaron Alexis killing 12 people during a shooting at the Washington Navy Yard in 2013 while holding a security clearance. He suggested each case could have ended differently had they been under more scrutiny.

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"Unfortunately, all three were able to conduct their traitors' work undetected because the government had at one time vetted and granted them access to secure facilities and information systems," King said.

"In the face of these insider threat scenarios, it is vital that government agencies have the tools to detect and disrupt future insider threat situations before damage is done," the New York Republican said.

Approved by voice vote, the measure would direct DHS to require employee education and training programs to idenitfy insider threat risks. It would also establish an internal DHS Steering Committee to meet on a regular basis to discuss cases posing potential threats.

Separately, the House passed additional legislation on Monday by voice vote that would require the Homeland Security secretary to conduct a review of all positions within the department to confirm whether they still need security clearances.