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Author Topic: How secret is top secret  (Read 2821 times)

goatroper

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How secret is top secret
« on: June 21, 2013, 11:20:41 am »
Interesting article on how Mr. Snowden got into a position to get hold of the info he's been releasing.  Considering the caliber and competence of so many of our political class this isn't really surprising, but it is disturbing all the same.

And these are the folks who need to know all your personal info.

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2013/06/21/Heres-How-Edward-Snowden-Got-Top-Secret-Clearance.aspx#page1
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    xsquidgator

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #1 on: June 21, 2013, 07:01:22 pm »
    And to think there are people that think we need even more government to fix all the .gov eff-ups...   :facepalm
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    strangelittleman

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #2 on: June 21, 2013, 09:12:12 pm »
      Simply put, there is just far too many people granted a Top Secret clearance. Something on the order of about 4 million+. Even when I was in the service, back in the 1980's-90's, it was anywhere between 2-3 million TS holders.
      There's no way one can properly conduct the vetting process, let alone properly maintain observation and periodic investigations over that many TS holders.
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    RevDisk

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #3 on: June 25, 2013, 04:41:23 pm »

    Eh, last time OPM came around to bother me, it was for a TS-SSBI. There was only one bit of dirt on me. Nothing illegal, or even close. Just a bit of personal information that I wouldn't want to be public knowledge. 

    "So...  what would you do if someone asked you for money or classified material in exchange for not disclosing this?"
    "Torture them until they revealed who they worked for, then mercifully kill them. Repeat until finished or killed."

    Ended that section kinda quick, but I still got the clearance.   :shrug
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    Outbreak

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #4 on: June 25, 2013, 06:40:12 pm »
    Let me shed some light on this. Not everyone with a TS clearance has access to TS information. The majority of TS material has further classifications attached to it, which require further checks, and verification of "need to know." It's called compartmentalization. So of that alleged 4 million cleared people, very few EVER see any TS material. Those that do only have access to the information they actually need to do their jobs, or very specific "compartments." The people at the NSA likely do not have access to much of the material an Air Force intelligence analyst does, and vice versa.

    I worked at a command center on a deployment, I held a TS clearance, and the mission I worked on had certain aspects classified at the TS level, and I still wasn't allowed to access it because my specific job did not require it. This is the case with probably 75%, if not more, of the TS clearance holders.

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    Coronach

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #5 on: June 25, 2013, 10:04:59 pm »
    I technically hold a TS clearance for my position at work. This is for situations where there is an event (think 911 or Boston) where they need to brief the local police leadership but also want to make sure that everyone in the room has clearance to see everything, and they also don't want to (or have time for) going through the rigamarole of figuring out who can be briefed, who cannot, and then finding replacements for the people who can't and are still capable of performing the job at hand. It's a common-sense efficiency move.

    That said, I have never seen anything more "secret" than unclassified/official-use-only. In other words, I haven't seen squat.

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    Arktos

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 12:04:53 am »
    Broadly speaking, secrets never last. State secrets, by their very nature, are known by many people. Anyone who knows a secret can destroy it.
     
    As for compartmentalization, both Manning and Snowden are skilled computer professionals. It might be wise to treat the IT department as spies. Certainly as potential hell raisers if and when they get pissed off.

     
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          None more highly rewarded
          None more confidentially treated
    ...
       Without humanity and justice,
          It is impossible
          To employ spies.
       Without subtlety and ingenuity,
          It is impossible
          To ascertain
          The truth of their reports
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    JesseL

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 12:24:36 am »
    Broadly speaking, secrets never last.

    But how can you know? I'd bet that there have been plenty of state secrets that were carried to the grave by everyone who knew them.
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    Arktos

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 12:33:34 am »
     True, the sample is biased. I included a qualifier for that reason. Still, the more people that know, the more people can blab. Back to the IT workers, some are quite adapt at finding things kept hidden. Snowden apparently applied for Booz Allen Hamilton solely to gain access to documents he knew existed.
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    RevDisk

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 08:07:03 am »
    Broadly speaking, secrets never last. State secrets, by their very nature, are known by many people. Anyone who knows a secret can destroy it.
     
    As for compartmentalization, both Manning and Snowden are skilled computer professionals. It might be wise to treat the IT department as spies. Certainly as potential hell raisers if and when they get pissed off.

    Manning was about as skilled computer professional as any secretary I've seen. He copy and pasted files that were not correctly secured with proper access control lists. (In english, the NTFS permissions weren't set properly). Manning showed extreme personality issues and repeated violations of operational security from Basic onward. He should have been discharged from the service during Basic. Ideally, folks will be allowed to weed more folks out.

    Snowden may or may not have been. I'm not involved in that particular incident, and don't care to be.


    And for the record, I was US Army Signal Corps plus worked at Defense Information Systems Agency. As previously started, with a TS SSBI. Thankfully I never needed to be SCI cleared, nor did I want lifestyle poly. I sincerely hope you are never put in any position of authority if you believe you should treat folks "as spies" because they may "raise hell" if treated poorly.
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    Arktos

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #10 on: June 26, 2013, 10:55:53 am »
      I was under the impression that he had actually broken into computers. But if security was that bad anyone with basic computer knowledge could have done it.
    As for the spies part, read the translated except from the Art of War that I posted. It is relatively positive, particularly the "without humanity and justice it is impossible to employ spies."
     
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    RevDisk

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #11 on: June 27, 2013, 09:57:07 am »
      I was under the impression that he had actually broken into computers. But if security was that bad anyone with basic computer knowledge could have done it.
    As for the spies part, read the translated except from the Art of War that I posted. It is relatively positive, particularly the "without humanity and justice it is impossible to employ spies."
     

    Who, Manning? Dude's head isn't on exactly right, if you know what I mean. No. He had access to SIPR and JWICS, because he was an intel analyst. He found a share that wasn't locked down (intentionally or not, no idea) and copied the files. Again, copy and paste. Manning really just needs to be locked in a psych ward until his head is more or less fixed. Then put on trial for his actions. Dude had issues, but he's not insane to the point where he should be given immunity from his actions.

    I unfortunately know more about the situation with that case than I really want to.

    The above and previous posts, tis all I'll say on the matter.
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    Daylight

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    Re: How secret is top secret
    « Reply #12 on: June 27, 2013, 12:52:57 pm »
    Still, the more people that know, the more people can blab.

    My dad interviewed veterans of the Aleutian campaign during the 1980s.  He was given a list by the Army of local soldiers who had survived those operations during WWII.  When he called them they denied all knowledge of what he was talking about, and hung up on him.  Only after they were contacted by chain of command did they speak to him. 

    The Escape Factory details some of the amazing stuff done to help bomber crews evade and escape if they were shot down.  Letter codes were taught to some members of air crews, but not all of them knew it existed.  A pilot might be a code user, or his tailgunner could be and the pilot would not even know.  When Shoemaker approached code users and WWII POWs under similar circumstances to my dad, he ran into the same thing.  40 years later these men were still carrying their secrets, and only revealed anything after official declassification and communication with legitimate officials.



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