Who's held a security clearance?

Several statements from people, both here and locally, about Central Intel and other such firms made me wonder what most people think about security.

And that led me to wonder about who has/had security clearances from the federal government. You know the drill:

  1. Fill out form. Endless freaking form.
  2. Ask mom for the address when you were three years old. (No fooling. I was 23 and they wanted addresses and such for the past 20 years.)
  3. Wait for forms to come back for questions.
  4. Interview with security agent.
  5. Go get fingerprinted.
  6. Attend lecture about security procedures.

It’s, at best, a trying process. At least for me.

So yes, I once held a security clearance through some work when I was just out of school and working for USAID. Mostly I had it because I travelled into the USAID headquarters and occasionally over at the State Department.

Lady Chance had one at the same time (she’s in defense). Our dinner conversation mostly consisted of:

Me: How was work?
Her: I can’t talk about it. You?
Me: I can’t take about it, either.

So who’s been through it? And, if so, do you believe you understand the reasoning behind classified information and such better than the man on the street?

Yep, I’ve got one.

TS/SCI and I’ve been codeword in the past.
Not the most exciting thing in the world, and honestly I think we classify things to make ourselves seem more important than we actually are. As one of my bosses said “If it’s not classified, people think it’s not worth reading because it’s not important enough to be secret.”

I once had a security clearance.

Because I processed those forms, not because I was ever privy to any classified information.

I had clearance to enter Site R, escorted. Given the importance of that place, I can appreciate that they wouldn’t allow anyone within the perimeter who wasn’t properly cleared.

My first job out of college was at a manufacturer of military avionics (radar and flir) which required a security clearance. I think the common guy on the street thinks classified material is all James Bond kind of stuff. The reality is it’s more like you need 14 sheets of paper signed before you can wipe your nose. I spent about 40 percent of my time doing engineering and 60 percent of my time doing paperwork. It’s all rules, rules, and more rules, like I’m allowed to be in that room but I’m not allowed to be the one who opens the door (seriously).

The first week on the job is really cool. After that, the reality of dealing with classified stuff sets in. You can’t have any windows in your office because all classified material has to be X feet inside the building, so you never know if its raining or sunny out. You get your lunch searched every day when you walk in the door. No matter how far behind schedule you are, you can’t bring work home. And you can’t stay late either, because that’s a security violation. You want to stay late? Here’s your twenty five hundred pages of forms to fill out and needs to be signed by everyone and their brother.

The thing I hated the most was not only can you not tell your friends and family what you are doing, but sometimes you aren’t even told what you are doing. I worked on a project for a helicopter designing some little processor board. I was given a spec that said it had to take inputs from A, B, and C, and had to create an output D. I have no idea what it did inside the helicopter, because I had no need to know.

Classified stuff for the dept of defense is easy to understand because you don’t want the bad guys knowing the exact capabilities of your system. I think even the common man on the street understands that.

Depends on what kind of security clearance you mean. I was cleared for work in Ammo Lockers that could potential contain Nuclear Weapons, but not for anything sort of Codes or Military Intelligence. :wink: (can’t use that phrase without smirking).
Especially in the Military there are many levels and type of security clearances.

Held several over the years from my first two jobs. Being right out of college, it just seemed like part of the job/work. As they started getting “higher”, it was a little more “exciting” (like getting into the James Bond world or something). But after 10+ years, it just got to be tedious and a pain. And a big reason why I decided to get out of government work.

I do feel that I understand the reasoning and justification for protecting sensitive information better than the man on the street. But I got really sick of the “we have to hold someone accountable” and the “you can only fuck up” attitude of actual security administration. It’s this additional burden/responsibility that you have to deal with on a daily basis, and the only real “reward” for doing things right is that…you get to keep on doing it !

Oh GAAAAh, the endless callbacks.

The forms are Dante’s ultimate level of hell. My GOSH, I can’t remember what I did 10 days ago, let alone 10 years.

I’ll tell you what, this has got to be the ultimate test of a true American. All us merkins are the ones who are so busy and move around and don’t have a clue who knew us 10 years ago when we lived 500 miles away, and where they are today and what their current phone numbers are. Are you people KIDDING us?

However, you can just about bet if some terrorist is trying to infiltrate some government branch or another by filling out this form they would have THE most perfectly filled out form. Every address for the last 10 years in perfect order. Every neighbor from all those years ago, AND their current numbers and every last thing lined out to the last perfect digit.

Only an American could have such a busy disorganized life, so much going, and have moved, changed jobs, held interim jobs and been so busy that they don’t have a clue where the person they worked with at a job with 8 years ago is currently, and what all of their numbers and IDs are.


Maybe the idea is that whomsoever can withstand the torture of a security clearance is psychologically fit for the jobs that require them??? :smiley:

Buuuutttt, isn’t the first rule of having a security clearance is that you don’t talk about your security clearance? So, no one who has current info or stories about security clearances will be popping in to say anything.

Which makes me wonder; Would posting to this thread from a restrictied compuer get you fired or killed?

Nope, not really. Most USG employees have them and we can say that we have them, it’s just that we’re not supposed to discuss Confidential and higher with non cleared individuals.

Depends on the agency and on their computer use rules. Also, most "restricted"PCs will have a filter so you can only get to certain internet sites; browsing on class terminals is difficult if not impossible. Besides, most classified stuff is so godawful boring that the mundanity serves as an additional protection.

I have a secret clearance. I find that most classified briefings aren’t a whole lot different than unclassified briefings…they just have numbers.

My clearance expires in a bit over a year…not looking forward to doing the stack O paperwork yet again. Ugh.

Have had and still have a clearance. My husband calls me a “double naught spy” despite me reminding him that I don’t work in Intelligence. He thinks he’s being funny. :rolleyes: He does know better, having held clearances himself - I think it’s just a “bit” he uses to amuse his coworkers. Whatever…

If I was to tell you what I do, you’d be hard-pressed not to yawn and hope for an interruption. The thing is, any one aspect of my job may be dull, but when you understand how all the pieces are put together and you can look at the Big Picture [sup]TM[/sup], then you may be able to appreciate why it’s classified. Yet even from my point of view, some things are more highly classified than they need to be, or maybe I’m not seeing part of the aforementioned Big Picture [sup]TM[/sup]. Sometimes I wonder if the Security types are just a bit too paranoid.

I will say, though, it’s nice at social gatherings. I hate it when people insist on talking work at parties, so I have an easy out not to. Plus it makes me seem all mysterious and stuff…

As a former Navy Nuc, I’ve had a Confidential clearance. Also had to learn the response to the question about the one bit of Secret information I may have know: “I can neither confirm nor deny…”

Prior to that I have had background checks run a few times for jobs I’ve applied for.

As other posters have said - Not really exciting.

Nitpick – Confidential is a level of classification, not a clearance. S, TS, TS/SCI, Codeword, Double Secret Ultimate and Enigma are the levels.

(Okay, the last two are jokes.)

So what is it called when one is allowed access to Confidential material, if not a clearance?

It’s still a clearance, I’ve just never heard of anyone just being cleared up to C and not S. Even interns get interim S or TS clearances in my experience and agency; if you were a Nuc (do you till glow in the dark) you probably had an S at bare minimum, it’s just not cost effective to do clearances only for C and not S.

When I was in the Navy I was stationed on a submarine tender. My shop (I was an electronics technician) maintained the equipment used by the ship’s communication division. Besides dealing with messages for the ship divisions, we also supplied the service for the subs that were in port. On those days I had duty, I would have to work in the commications center. We printed and delivered all the communications, mostly general stuff but we would get the occasional top secret messages. When we delivered the TS messages, we would call the quarterdeck and request an armed escort. I don’t remember getting the TS clearance as any big deal but I had to attend an all day debriefing when I left the Navy. It included talking to several different government agents one on one and the listening to their warnings of long stays in prison if I was to release any of the info to which I had access. Excuse me, there is a knock at the door.

You may be right that the background checks and such are effectively identical for C and S. At the very least, due to need to know, we were administratively kept to a C clearance.

I’ve just gone through this, although my security clearance isn’t as high-level, since I only had to go back for 10 years on previous addresses and I haven’t had any interviews. I had to give three references for people who would vouch for me. Two of the friends I gave as references were people I had vouched for when they went through clearance some years ago, so I know the kind of questions they’d be asked, however, I don’t know if anyone’s actually talked to them about me yet.

I don’t have access to confidential information; I just manage a website for a small federal agency, health-related info that’s mostly in the public domain.

This is the first time I’ve had to go through this procedure, but I’ve been in the same job for 8 years without any clearance, so it seems to me to be a kind of closing-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-has-got-out measure. I haven’t done anything wrong and don’t intend to, but if I did, I would have had plenty of opportunity to trash the site before I was “cleared.”

Isn’t that at least a slight exaggeration? I’m sure that most people in State and Defense have clearances, plus people in Energy who work on nuclear stuff, but large swaths of the government never come near classified info. Veterans’ Affairs, Education, HHS, Agriculture, all but small portions of Commerce, Transportation, Interior…you get the idea.

We may be sworn to protect information that’s confidential - but not from a security POV, such as tax info, information collected through the surveys that the Census Bureau and other government statistical agencies carry out, and whatnot. Taking an oath to protect information that’s privileged under Title 26 or 13 or 15 may involve a background check, but you don’t get a security clearance.