A backlog in processing about 700,000 government agency security clearance applications has resulted in interim passes being issued to murderers, rapists, pedophiles and people linked to child pornography, according to a report.
"I've got murderers who have access to classified information," said Dan Payne, director of the U.S. Defense Security Service, the Associated Press reported. "I have rapists. I have pedophiles. I have people involved in child porn. I have all these things at the interim clearance level and I'm pulling their clearances on a weekly basis."
Payne, who made the comments last week at an conference, said "nothing gets done" in government and private intelligence if temporary passes based on partial background checks are not provided.
"We are giving those people access to classified information with only the minimum amount of investigation," Payne said. "This is why we have to fix this process. This is why we have to drive these timelines down."
Wait times to access "secret" information averages about four months, while the "top-secret" level clearances take nine to 10 months, per the AP.
The National Background Investigations Bureau conducts the majority of reviews to judge the trustworthiness of applicants, with delays having been exacerbated since 2014 when the government ceased to collaborating with a private contractor after it suffered a privacy breach, the news agency said.