U.S. national security ‘blind spot’: Government leaders with dementia

By Bob Unruh

Joe Biden meets with the New Democrat Coalition in the Roosevelt Room, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at the White House. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)
Joe Biden meets with the New Democrat Coalition in the Roosevelt Room, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, at the White House. (Official White House photo by Erin Scott)

A new study suggests that senior citizens in key government positions have the risk of dementia as they age, and with that would come a new and worrying national security risk.

The Rand Corp. study states, “Individuals who hold or held a security clearance and handled classified material could become a security threat if they develop dementia and unwittingly share government secrets.

“The exploratory research discussed in this Perspective highlights the factors involved in dementia becoming a risk to global and national security, proposes a framework to assess the risk, and guides further study of this potential threat. The authors also explore how the national security and intelligence communities are especially at risk because they employ large numbers of military veterans, who, as a population, may have a higher risk of developing dementia because of high rates of traumatic brain injury.”

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The issue is significant at this point because of Joe Biden’s age as an octogenarian and his many, many mental lapses that are evident on an almost daily basis.

President Donald Trump, who was challenged to take a cognitive test when he was president, and aced it, repeatedly has cited Biden’s mental stumbles and bumbles, which have gotten to the point he’s even misidentified his own grandchildren and called on people who are dead.

A vast majority of Americans, by polling, now also believe Biden is too old to be president.

The federally funded study said, “As people live longer and retire later, challenges associated with cognitive impairment in the workplace will need to be addressed. Our limited research suggests this concern is an emergency security blind spot. considering the potential consequences of an inadvertent security breach stemming from cognitive impairment, we believe that further study of risk, recognition, and mitigation strategies is important.

“Such research should be paired with educating the current and retired security workforce and their families to increase awareness and recognition of dementia symptoms.”

It concluded, “Further understanding of cognitive impairment and cognitive decline within an aging IC and national security workforce cohort could contribute to securing the safety of classified information in the United States.”

It explains, “The U.S. government entrusts classified material to individuals who possess a security clearance (Department of Defense Manual [DoDM] 5200.01, 2013). But how do these trusted individuals remain good custodians of that classified information if they are impaired? Two trends might contribute to a new type of national security threat: (1) People are living longer, and (2) people are working later in life. As a result, the workforce might experience a higher prevalence of dementia than in past generations. Taken together, we believe that an increasing number of cleared personnel—that is, personnel who hold or have held security clearances—have or will have dementia.”

It reported, “The U.S. population of adults ages 65 and older will double between 2000 and 2040 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Community Living, 2018). In turn, an increase in the number of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias is expected to accompany this demographic change.”

The very real threat comes because there is “the potential for an individual to use their authorized access, intentionally or unintentionally, to harm their organization…”

It said, “An individual who holds a Top Secret security clearance who develops dementia and unwittingly shares government secrets is an insider threat.”

A report from Just the News explained the study is “bringing more scrutiny to aging politicians for recent apparent lapses in cognitive abilities.”

The report cited, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who has access to more classified information than most other members of Congress due to his leadership position, recently had two brief on-camera ‘freeze-ups,’ where he stopped talking and stared blankly forward for less than a minute.”

Further, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, recently appeared to forget that she had been ill, and absent from the Senate for months, and she needed to be told by aides how to vote.

Biden, 80, is the oldest person to hold the Oval Office in U.S. history, and has prompted widespread concern, even among Democrats, over his “public gaffes and stumbles,” the report said.

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