[JURIST] In an unpublicized 18-page document circulated last year by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley [official profile], the Bush administration altered the Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information [current text effective 12/29/05; prior version], making changes which could allow the federal government to use sexual orientation as a factor in denying clearances to applicants. Under the old version of the rule, "Sexual orientation or preference may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance." The new rules remove this clause and instead mandate that "No adverse inference concerning the standards in the Guideline may be raised solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual."
A spokesperson for the National Security Council [official website] said Tuesday that the new version of the rule was not intended to change the federal government's policy on sexual orientation, but that the disputed language was removed to bring the rule into compliance with a 1995 executive order [EO 12968 text] regarding access to classified information. The Human Rights Campaign [advocacy website] has sharply criticized [press release] the new version of the rule, saying that it opens the door to broader interpretation of the guidelines, which could lead to gays and lesbians being denied security clearances. AP has more.