How America’s Vetting Process Eases Access to High Officials

Understanding the Threat pic
Understanding the Threat

National security expert John Guandolo is the founder of and vice president of strategic planning for Strategic Engagement Group. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, John Guandolo has shared his knowledge of counterterrorism on the website Breitbart.

The American government faces the challenge of properly vetting all people who come into contact with government officials. Despite past incidents, the United States has shown leniency in conducting background checks of individuals who pose no apparent threat.

In his article titled “Petraeus Scandal Highlights Dangerous Weakness in U.S. Counterintelligence,” Guandolo highlights an incident in which a young woman by the name of Jill Kelley gained access to several four-star generals and admirals. Having flown under the radar for a period of time as the wife of a Florida oncologist and an unpaid social liaison, Ms. Kelley discovered ways to join and host social functions that were attended by many U.S. Central Command members.

She established influential relationships with leading officials, but her background was never evaluated because Ms. Kelley, née Jill Khawam, appeared safe and was likable. It was not until she issued complaints about General Petraeus’ extramarital affair with Paula Broadwell that concerns of her background came to light. Guandolo’s article proceeds to question the intent of Ms. Kelley’s connection with high officials. In addition, it compares her ability to surpass security measures to a method that would be carried out by dangerous parties, like the Muslim Brotherhood.


Author: John Guandolo

John Guandolo, a counterterrorism consultant at Strategic Engagement Group, Inc., also contributes his time to the Centennial Institute as a Strategic Threats Consultant. The institute, part of Colorado Christian University, works to promote the public understanding of freedom, family, and faith issues. This is accomplished through research, policy analysis, and seminars and conferences with students, staff, faculty, and outside experts such as John Guandolo. He also co-authored Shariah: The Threat To America: An Exercise In Competitive Analysis (Report of Team B II). As Vice President of Strategic Planning and Execution at Strategic Engagement Group, John Guandolo assists law enforcement, government, military, and intelligent community leaders on how to prepare for and respond to terrorist threats. Prior to accepting a position with Strategic Engagement Group, he served the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a Subject Matter Expert. During his time in this role, he developed the agency's first training course on the threat of Muslim extremism and issues posed by the rise of Islamic law. John Guandolo joined the agency as a Special Agent, where he led SWAT team operations, participated in investigations, and served as an Advanced Capability Medic. His accolades include two Awards for Investigative Excellence, given by the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, and the Defender of the Homeland Award, given by United States Senators John Kyl and Joe Lieberman. John Guandolo graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1989 and was a Company Commander during his senior year. He is a member of the Force Recon Association, a non-profit fraternal organization that promotes the fellowship of those who have served in military reconnaissance units. John Guandolo also holds membership in the Knights of Columbus, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The American Legion, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and the Order of St. Crispin. He enjoys hiking, competing in triathlons, and camping.

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