Top Secret

Lot of talk these days about security clearances and the lack of them. I’ve undergone two background checks by the federal government having to do with my being a radioman in the Navy and afterwards for a job offer from the CIA.

In both instances I was required to have top-secret clearance and in both it required answering a lot of questions about my life. The government wanted to know everywhere I had ever lived, who I’d ever worked for, who my friends were, what schools I’d attended, had I ever been arrested, and had I ever soaped my next door neighbor’s windows at Halloween? I recall being panic-stricken when filling out the large stack of questionnaires I’d been given.

The CIA required even more. I had to spend three days in Langley, VA taking all sorts of personality tests, IQ tests, aptitude tests, psychological test, interviews with several shrinks, and a lie detector test that had me sweating blood. I passed everything and was offered a job in communications. After learning what all the job involved I decided to pass up the opportunity.

Later I learned that in both instances the government did check up on all the information I had provided. Agents visited my hometown and had face to face interviews with all my references and with the powers at my former high school.

During my years aboard ship as a Radioman I quickly came to understand the need for the deep vetting. At that time the ship’s Radiomen knew most everything that was happening, even before the Captain of the ship knew. It was us who prepared and delivered his messages.

I just read that thirty some White House employees, including Trump’s closest advisors, are unable to pass the vetting for top-secret clearance. Jared Kushner even failed to correctly answer several important items on his security application. I’m not sure but it seems like security is not what it once was. Just one more thing that needs fixing.

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