Military Security Clearance Question

A couple of questions regarding military security clearances:

  1. Is there a way to find out what level of security clearance an individual had while they were in the military (in the 1980’s) or
  2. Is there a way for someone to prove what level of clearance they had?
  3. Is that information on the DD-214?

My clearance isn’t on my DD-214. Unless somebody worked with, say, the Dept. of State and had a black passport, I don’t know how he would prove that he had some sort of clearance. A dip passport pretty much assures that someone had at least a secret or top secret clearance.

It isn’t on my DD 214. I imagine I used to have something that had my clearance stated on it but can’t remember. Sometimes all jobs required a certain clearance. I had a Top Secret. IIRC all officers had at least a Secret. Over thirty years later it is hard to remember.

It’s all electronic now. I imagine old manual records may have been updated as a person came up for periodic re-investigation. This is not something that’s available on-line. You’d have to have a clearance yourself and a need-to-know (like a base security officer).

And the handshake.:wink:

It’s not only military personnel who have security clearances.

People can only learn what security clearances someone else has if they are considering offering that person a job that requires a security clearance. Otherwise a person’s security clearance is none of your business. Companies and government agencies that require security clearances have an established procedure for checking what clearances a job seeker has already. They have an established procedure for getting a new employee clearances that they don’t already have (assuming that they can pass the background checks). All this is true for both the clearances a job seeker has regardless whether their previous jobs with the clearances were in the military, in civilian government jobs, or in companies contracting with the government.

When I apply for a job that requires a security clearance, I have some old paper work like a DD Form 2875 and DOD 8570 that shows the company that I’d had a security clearance in the past, but they still have to go through the process of verifying that I still have a valid clearance.

It is perhaps best to think of this in terms of what a clearance is and who has one.
An individual does not really have a clearance in spite of the normal terminology. A person is cleared to a certain level and therefore eligible to receive classified information at that level. The clearance is created and held by the government. So you can’t actually learn what clearance a person held since she didn’t hold one. When a person applies for a job, or is considered for a job that requires a clearance, the company/agency with this requirement has the ability to ask the Government whether the person is cleared for the appropriate level. But the person can’t show up with a magic piece of paper and prove he/she has a clearance-the system doesn’t work that way. In spite of the various badges people wear at work. All they actually say is that the local security people checked and the wearer is cleared to a certain level.

Back to the OP. I don’t know about military records, but employment records: hiring papers, resumes, etc. often will say something about clearances. Sometimes just the position the person held implies a minimum clearance. If you really need to know the clearance level held by someone back in the 80s, that is the avenue I would explore. Try to find out what position the person held in the military and see if that position requires a certain level of clearance. If the person got out of the military and applied for a job, her resume probably would mention it. etc. But no one will have a piece of paper called “security clearance” like a certificate or diploma. That isn’t how this works.

[Of course other folks here may well understand the system better than I and provide corrections, but the above is based on 35 years of dealing with clearances as a civilian employee.]

In the early 1980’s, the FBI conducted my Special Background Investigation (SBI), and it was from them I requested a copy (if I remember correctly). They had to review the entire thing and declassify it, every page was stamped “Confidential” and scratched out replaced with “For Official Use Only”.

Today I believe the Federal Investigative Services (FIS) handles the investigations.

That is a “need to know” thing. If an “agency” wants this information (and would be the type of “agency” which would need it), then they could find out.

Why would you care? A person has the highest level of security clearance needed to do their job and no more. I wouldn’t expect a junior officer to claim Five Eyes clearance, but their comms clerks might. Who brags about a security clearance?

It sounds to me like the OP is interested in outing an acquaintance he suspects is a BS artist.

As others have said, the answer is “no”. Neither you nor the supposed BSer has any ability to back up or to debunk those claims with official records. At least not directly.

The DD-214 will list the jobs & ranks held. Which gives clues, but only if you already have the background knowledge of which jobs at which levels in which services in which era typically have what clearance.

Further, I’m not sure what use the info is. If somebody is saying “I used to have clearance X so I know supposedly secret factoid Y”, well he’s pretty well proved he didn’t have X & doesn’t know Y.

Your own knowledge never really becomes declassified. So when you leave the job the stuff in your head becomes “write only, read never.” Folks who’ve never worked with this stuff are the folks who don’t understand this point and brag of their supposed insider knowledge.

Getting out of the service or leaving a clearance-required job is not blanket permission to blab all you learned in the job. Rather the opposite. It comes with a lifelong obligation to shut up about the stuff, and the stuff about the stuff, and the clearance associated with the stuff.

That is exactly why I asked. I have no reason to “out” or embarrass this person, but it did get me curious. I know someone who was in the Army (as an enlisted person) in the 80’s. I know for a fact he did go to a military language school to learn a foreign language, but as far as I know, never did work in a capacity where he used that skill. He worked most of his enlistment in a mechanic type job. He has, on several occasions, mentioned how he held a “top secret” security clearance. Personally I think it is BS. I was in the Navy in the early 70’s and loaded weapons on aircraft, and I never knew if I had a security clearance or not. There was nothing on my DD-214

If he went to the Defense Language School, it’s possible that they started the paperwork for the TS. However the fact that he didn’t stay in that field makes me think that he might have flunked out and/or didn’t get the TS.

I was a USAF officer in a front-line combat job in the 1980s. So roughly a contemporary of the OP’s pal.

For the 8+ years I was in I had a TS for just 4 of them. The other four years I was fully able to plan and lead wartime missions with just a secret clearance. This was largely peacetime, so not too much actual shooting. But the administrative details are the same in peace or war.

While TS clearances are hardly rare, they’re expensive to grant and not given out like candy. I’d go with JerrySTL’s theory.

There were various computer printouts that came from our local personnel office which included current job, current qualifications, clearances, and a lot of other stuff. Sort of a current resume or bio; everything their computers knew about me.

If this guy had retained any of that paperwork it might be informative. But he’d have to have kept it and want to show it to you. I finally jettisoned all my such paperwork a couple years ago when I last moved household.

Without going into too much detail, although my DD214 doesn’t show that I had a clearance (TS/SBI), I still have my Non-Commissioned Officer Evaluation Reports (NCOER) that detailed my duties as an Assistant Special Security Officer (SSO) at both Division and Corps level. Plus, my graduation certificates from a couple of SSO courses. If your friend can provide something like this (Army, I’m not sure how the other services do ratings), then you can figure out if the job he had required a high level clearance.

If he was a mechanic, find out on which aircraft, then find out if those aircraft were nuclear capable. That’s the only reason I can think of that a mechanic would have a TS unless it was location i.e. groom lake or the like.

The OP says the guy was in the Army. If he was a mechanic he was probably wrenching on tanks, APCs, SP artillery, and / or trucks. With a smaller chance for helicopters & a tiny chance for fixed-wing aircraft.

As of the 1980s there were a few tactical missiles and a smidgen of artillery which was nuke capable.

Who knows, maybe he went to language school, did well, went to work for the NSA and washed out, so he went back to fixing lawnmowers in uniform.

Considering that ~1.5 million people have a Top Secret clearance at a time, its not that surprising for someone to have had one. Hardly brag worthy.