clearance-01This morning I found an article on the Washington Post that claims 5.1 million Americans have security clearances, which amounts to 1.5% of the population.  It occurs to me that is why so many people seem to think that a former president taking huge amounts of classified material to his home is OK.   They’ve never seen what ordinary Americans who work with security clearances have to do every day to work with sensitive information.  I have worked for 60 years on defense systems, mostly sensor systems that keep track of the vessels and vehicles of countries that might mean us harm.   I have held clearances at most of the levels mentioned in the affidavit justifying the search of Mira Lago … Confidential, Secret, Top Secret and special access.  At each step, I was trained in the rules for handling classified documents at that level.  I had a safe in my office where I kept any classified documents in my possession.

The facility security office, an independent department more dedicated to the government than my company, kept track of who had what.  There were strict rules regarding how the documents could be handled, copied or transmitted to others.  Some documents could not be left unattended, others could not leave closed areas.  At the end of each day, the offices would be inspected to be sure safes were locked and no sensitive documents were left out.   And having, say, a Secret clearance did not mean I could look at any Secret document … I had to have a “need to know,” meaning I needed the information in the document to do my job.  There were regular security inspections by the Facility Security Officer and Government Security Inspectors.  Lapses in security procedures resulted in Security Violations commensurate with the seriousness of the violation … and repeated violations could result in loss of clearance or even loss of your job.

I don’t know whether you can tell from my description but dealing with security regulations was nuisance that sometimes slowed down my work.  It also required an acceptance that to some degree my privacy was sacrificed … applications for a clearance were incredibly detailed and not only my references but friends of my references were interviewed regarding my history and character.   I was required to report to the Security office whenever I travelled out of the country and some countries were not allowed.   We were required to regularly be trained in how to identify agents trying to get access to information online and in person and how to report such activities. We all groused about the time we wasted keeping up with security requirements, but we did it because we knew how important our work was to our country’s security.

And so I am watching with horror as the story of the thousands ofboxes pages of classified material found at Mir A Lago unfolds.  If I ever did what Trump and his cronies did, I would be indicted post haste.   I suppose I should have known this but I was none-the-less astounded to learn that the president (and hundreds of congressmen … some who worship Trump) do not have security clearances.  Yikes.   But I assume they have advisors that do and the theory is that the advisor will guide the boss.   However, that policy never imagined we’d have a narcissist president that doesn’t listen to anyone and thinks everything he touches is his.   Trump’s actions and those of his cronies are not only illegal but an insult to the millions of regular Americans who go through the extra effort of protecting our country’s secrets as they work each day.  He needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.   And if his minions should decide to riot in the streets, as Linsey Graham suggests, they should be arrested and jailed as enemies of the state.

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4 Comments on “Classified”

  1. barrythewiz Says:

    Right on. The hubris of this man is one thing, but this level of recklessness literally put lives at risk. And then there’s the question I don’t hear anyone talking about: why did he take these materials?

  2. Rita Altman Says:

    Another great article. Wish you could get it printed in all of the major newspapers in this country.

  3. oldereyes Says:

    Me, too. I actually sent a link to it to the Times. And I do have 1200 subscribers. Change the world, 1200 at a time. Too slow.

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