How even a secret foreign agent can access America’s top secrets!
Let’s say you’re an ordinary American citizen like me, and you’ve just landed a great job with the government or with a government contractor. Let’s also assume that part of your new job includes working with Top Secret documents. Of course, before you can do that, you’ve got to pass a strict background check.
A document called Director of Central Intelligence Directive 1/14, issued in 1998, details the high standards most of us must pass before we’re allowed access to Sensitive Compartmented Information. “The individual must be stable, trustworthy, reliable, (and) of excellent character, judgment and discretion,” according to the directive.
For your thorough background scrutiny, the directive says interviews must be conducted with four references who “have social knowledge of the subject.” Also, two of your neighbors are supposed to be interviewed, as well as “cohabitants, relatives … and law-enforcement officials,” if your case warrants.
After you’ve passed, and you must pass with flying colors, and you have your high clearances, you’re supposed to report even your own activity when it potentially conflicts with specific security guidelines. For instance, one—Guideline D—states that “sexual behavior is a security concern if it involves a criminal offense … may subject the individual to undue influence or coercion, exploitation, or duress, or reflects lack of judgment or discretion.”
So how does an American citizen who’s spying for a foreign government get around such tough standards? By being elected to Congress, of course.
This situation has troubled many in intelligence recently, because of Rep. Gary Condit’s admitted sexual affair with intern Chandra Levy. As former top CIA officer Duane (“Dewey”) Clarridge says, Gary Condit “was made to order for blackmail. This guy is a perfect setup.” Yet Condit has sat on the house intelligence committee since 1999, where he’s had continuous access to documents even higher than Top Secret.
The general view of lawmakers is that voters should rule on someone’s fitness for office, and party leaders choose whom they want for plum assignments. Clarridge points out, “None of those people want to be investigated.”
— Gayle Lynds