Jumping the Security Clearance Shark

If you do not understand the difference between a “Security Clearance” and the “Need to Know,” then you might want to hold off on blowing up peoples clearances.

Seriously, being cleared for certain material is not the same thing as needing to be involved in that information. For example, once upon a time, I held a TOP SECRET-SIOP-ESI Clearance. That doesn’t even exist anymore. What it essentially meant was that I was cleared – after a long and serious investigation of my background that included a VERY uncomfortable discussion with my best friend in High School – to see material that could, if disclosed in an unauthorized manner, be “reasonably expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security” of The United States.

The short version is that I was a targeting specialist. All FTB’s held the same clearance and while we could all do targeting, some of us did just a bit more. The clearance made it easier to transition people in and out of the positions needed without having to hold the ship up waiting for yet another clearance to be investigated and granted. But the fact that we all had the clearance did not mean that we all had the “need to know.”

By comparison, Edward Snowden had a very low-level clearance and had absolutely no “need to know.” But, some very stupid people who – as far as we know – have not held accountable, handed him some information for which he was neither cleared nor authorized to handle, and the next thing you know we have that debate going on. Bradley Manning knowingly stole classified material for which he was not cleared. Julian Assange had no clearance and no “need to know.” Where is he today?

The US Government used to take security very seriously. Today, it’s more of a “prosecution of convenience.” Some people are big enough not to concern themselves with OPSEC (|→|) and some people get hammered and then pardoned by the next President for it.

In every case, the singular rule of security applies – The ONLY people who can hurt you are the people you trust.

The New York Daily News has decided to “refocus” on actual news and sports, presumably in New York. This has caused great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Why? People got to eat, but there’s never an Op-Ed about how important restaurants’ are. Or how critical farms are so don’t take their water away. But a newspaper “refocuses” and you’d think that the apocalypse was upon us…

The second night of shark week has us back into Sharkumentaries, and this pleases me. Greatly.



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