With everything that is happening in the world today, both at home and abroad, national security has become a critically important issue. Along with this comes the question of who should be granted access to some of the most serious issues affecting the national security of American, and how that access should be granted. Out of this has arisen the need to talk about security clearance issues at the national level in an effort to ensure that information does not makes its way into the wrong hands.
Security Clearance Defined
It is first important to define what security clearance involves. As Tully Rinckey has stated, security clearance is the term used by the United States Government to identify which people or companies are eligible to access various pieces of information that is deemed to be classified. With this comes the term referred to as eligibility for access. This run parallel with security clearance and is commonly used today in many government record systems. It is important to note that there are two main types of security clearances in play today, and these Personnel Security Clearances and Facility Security Clearances.
Various Levels of Security Clearance
Rinckey also notes that there different types of security clearances granted by the respective agencies of the United States government. The primary agencies concerned with granting such clearances include the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Out of these agencies, the Department of Defense handles roughly eight percent of all security clearances. The there main levels that a person or company can be granted are: Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.
Information Required To Gain Security Clearance
The application form to gain security clearance is quite comprehensive in scope. Among other details, one must include a great deal of personal identifying data. This includes questions related to citizenship, education, resign, employment history, any foreign connection and travel abroad, as well all all family an associates. Applicants will also need to reveal any information about past criminal convictions, any involvement with illegal drugs, financial issues including any delinquencies, the attainment of any mental health counseling, military service, and any prior national security clearances that have been granted.
Length of National Security Clearance
A person who is granted a national security clearance classification will generally retain it for as long as the position is held for which the clearance was granted in the first place. As soon as a cleared person no longer can justify the need for access to classified information may have their clearance level downgraded or withdrawn until it is required again at a later date. These provisions are in place to help streamline the process, get access to classified information to those that truly need it, while making certain that it does not fall into the wrong hands once such clearance is no longer necessary.
Security clearance at the national level is a serious matter. A clearance can revoked at any time, particularly if information contained on the initial application is later found to be false or misleading. As times continue to become more precarious, the process will likely become more involved in an attempt to keep information classified and in front of only the very people that need to know.