Oz: would give up security clearances to keep his dual nationality

Republican candidate for the United States Senate Mehmet Oz today said he would waive certain security clearances provided to all US senators to retain his dual citizenship with Turkey.

Oz was talking to a group of reporters about the role David McCormick and his former hedge fund – Bridgewater Associates – played in the management of the Pennsylvania Public Schools Employees Retirement System (PSERS).

Asked about his dual nationality with the United States and Turkey, Oz explained that he kept his Turkish nationality to take care of his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. When asked what he would do if it disqualified him from security clearances, Oz agreed that he would waive them in this situation, noting “I can love my country and love my mother”.

Oz was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Tower Hill School in Wilmington, Del. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University in 1982 and later earned an MD and MBA from the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton School of Business.

His parents were born in Turkey and under Turkish nationality law, children born to a Turkish mother or a Turkish father are Turkish citizens from birth. ounces served in the Turkish army to retain dual citizenship.

To be clear on the law, there is no prohibition against dual nationals serving in Congress. “The only requirements to serve in Congress are age, being a U.S. citizen for at least nine years for the Senate, and living in the state you represent at the time of election,” said Molly Reynolds from the Brooklyn Institution to Politics.

Unlike federal agency officials, lawmakers don’t have security clearances per se, experts say Call. On the contrary, members of Congress are traditionally viewed as inherently trustworthy because of the offices they hold, although they face penalties under the Senate’s code of ethics for revealing classified information.

History has examples of dual citizenship by presidents, including James Buchanan and Chester Arthur, both British subjects. It was Theodore Roosevelt who first raised the question of dual nationality in political matters, calling it an obvious absurdity. More recently, by Ted Cruz Canadian citizenship was elevated when he ran in the Republican presidential primaries in 2016.

“Electing a dual citizen would raise new questions of security policy,” said Steven Aftergooddirector of the Government Secrecy Project with the Federation of American Scientists, in an email.

“Currently, members of Congress are not required to hold a security clearance to access classified information. But electing someone with dual citizenship could lead Congress to revise its rules to limit the Dual Citizen Access to Certain Types of Classified Information Even if Congress does not act, executive branch agencies could unilaterally seek to withhold certain classified information from a dual citizen in Congress.

Aftergood concluded that he would “expect Congressional leaders to reach an agreement with the new dual national member that would allow the sharing of classified information under certain basic rules and with certain limitations.”

While members of the U.S. Senate have had conflicts of interest in the present and past, the country has never had a senator who retains dual citizenship, served in a foreign military, and has deep ties to the another nation, says Josh Rogin, columnist for the Washington Post.

“Oz’s dual citizenship — and his reluctance to renounce Turkish citizenship — will keep the FBI and security officials awake at night,” said Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute.

“Is he really a government agent? There’s not really any evidence of that,” said Steven Cook, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “But if Oz has any business dealings that are in the government’s good graces, there are legitimate questions about his views on those issues.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been clarified to reflect that Oz answered “yes” to a reporter’s question asking if he would waive security clearances.

March 15, 2022 | Posted in Featured Stories, Senate, Top News | 7 comments

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