Over 54,000 More Americans Added to Security Clearance Rolls in Last Year

I’ve long argued that our security clearance employment system is “an arbitrary system of control that does more to foster cowed national security employees than to foster actual national security.”

So I’m none too happy to know more than 50,000 Americans have been added to this arbitrary system in the last year, making up something like 1.6% of all Americans.

The number of people who are cleared for access to classified information continued to rise in 2012 to more than 4.9 million, according to a new annual reportfrom the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  This is only the third official tally of government-wide security clearance activity ever prepared, and it is the largest reported to date.

The total number of cleared personnel as of October 1, 2012 was 4,917,751.  Although the number of contractors who held a clearance declined in 2012, the number of eligible government employees grew at a faster rate, yielding a net increase of 54,199 clearances, or 1.1 percent, from the year before.

I suspect adding 50,000 people to the rolls of clearance holders — whose lives are open to surveillance and from whom minor lies can be an excuse for termination — will simply increase the numbers of elite national security types who avoid pissing off the powerful.

Meanwhile, Josh Gerstein has an excellent report on what’s at stake in the Conyers v. Department of Defense lawsuit, in which two relatively low level DOD employees are fighting to retain their Merit Systems Protect Board protections in spite of the government deeming their jobs “sensitive.”

The Justice Department and Defense Department are arguing that federal employees like commissary managers and accountants, who don’t have access to classified information, can be demoted or effectively fired without recourse to the usual avenues of appeal if their jobs are designated as “sensitive.” The ripple effect of that — critics say it would effectively strip huge numbers of federal workers of civil service protections by treating them like those who have access to the nation’s most vital secrets — could hollow out legal protections that have allowed whistleblowers to speak out with less fear of being fired.

As I’ve noted, DOD argues that even those who sell Gatorade on military bases should receive no protections in case they’re deemed a security threat. Which means people like Rhonda Conyers and Devon Northover, the plaintiffs in this case, can be fired for holding unpopular views, because that might make them untrustworthy to sell service members Gatorade.

This is a creeping system by which more and more lucrative (and semi-lucrative, in the case of “sensitive”) jobs are subjected to arbitrary political whims.

And it’s growing.

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emptywheel RT @NaomiGilens: My paper on warrant canaries, posted in light of Apple apparently killing its Section 215 canary: http://t.co/u7By6hmJk4
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emptywheel @PatrickCToomey Good paper but frustrating to see claim 215 only used for telecom. First confirmed for TATP precursors. @NaomiGilens
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emptywheel RT @RobertsDan: Barbara Mikulski, who blocked Paul's call for separate Syrian vote, is effectively filibustering on Senate floor now - talk…
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emptywheel We interrupt forever war to bring you Orioles RT @KenGude: war debates happen all the time but the O’s haven’t won the AL East since ’97!!!
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emptywheel @nickmanes1 False: New editor at Politico. You just don't know her.
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emptywheel Barb Mikulski interrupts ISIS war debate ('no way to minimize debate" she says) to talk abt Orioles, wearing bright orange jacket.
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emptywheel @HanniFakhoury Curious whether Apple decided to do that before or after Riley.
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emptywheel Hey, one of NFL's accused wife and/or child beaters is NOT getting a paid vacation on Exempt List. https://t.co/JTOzShg6CX
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emptywheel @docexblog Ah, thanks. Should have cc'ed you on that question. Now I'm utterly fascinated by play of 9/17 date: Constitution & 9/17/01 MON.
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emptywheel RT @docexblog: @emptywheel @saftergood Under Act CIG became CIA day after Forrestal sworn in (which was Sept. 17), in Doc 1 here http://t.c…
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emptywheel CIA website dates founding of CIA to signing of National Security Act, which was July 26, 1947. Why is today its birthday? @saftergood
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