Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Classified Mess

We now have FBI report about Hillary Clinton's servers and email stuff.  What a shit-show!  Yep, that is the technical term.  Or "unforced error".  The good news, like her husband, is that HRC can survive the dumb mistakes and still get to the highest office, in part because her competitor has lowered the standards for judgment. 

I don't think this is disqualifying in a legal sense--but damn, this whole thing was just stupid from the get-go.  Yes, working in government can be damned inconvenient.  But there are reasons to keep classified and unclassified stuff separate.

In my year on the Joint Staff, everyone had their own classified computer hooked up to the SIPRINET (if I remember the acronym correctly), so that folks could and did shoot email around DC and around the world chock full of Excel, Powerpoint, and Word documents that were classified as unclass, confidential, secret, and top secret.  I was not cleared for code-word stuff that is more compartmentalized.  In some meetings, I was kicked out when such stuff was being discussed.  The general rule was that if it involved signals (NSA) or Special Ops, I had to leave the room. 

One could not ship stuff from that system to the unclassified system.  We had one unclassified computer hooked up to the internet, and the folks at higher ranks had two computers on their desk--one for each system.  There were not connected in any way.  Yes, you could insert a USB key, but that was forbidden since those things are great ways to deliver viruses/malware/etc.  Still, one could do use a USB key or burn a disk (Chelsea Manning) to get stuff off of the classified system--it required work and effort. 

The folks I worked with were adept at talking about a topic in different ways, depending on who they were speaking with--they could have an unclassified conversation, a confidential one, a top secret one altering what they would say and with varying levels of detail.  I was not so skilled, but I don't think I blew any big secrets in my year. 

We also had a secondary phone system for secure conversations. I used it all of one time--to chat with an American who was serving as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations for the Stabilization Force in Bosnia.  His name happened to be MG David Petraeus.  Small world? 

For secure videotele conferences (SVTC's), we had to go another part of the Pentagon--the National Military Command Center, which is a building within the building.  That was where we had to drop off our classified documents on 9/11 since we couldn't get back into our office (none of us had the combination to the door lock).  Why did we have a combo on the door? Our office was a SCIF--which stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility.  We could leave classified docs (not those above Top Secret) laying around.

Anyhow, all of this is to say that we took this classified materials stuff quite seriously.  I wish our former Secretary of State did so in her time in office. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Getting a lot of Climategate committee vibes from the conclusion of this.