Discontinuing (revoking) one’s security clearance. Shocking? Atrocious? Unthinkable? I think not. During my 28 years in the U.S. Army I had many occasions to be “granted” (yes, allowed or permitted) a security clearance at various levels. It started with Confidential, then upped to Secret and eventually to Top Secret. When I did a stint at the Lawrence Radiation Lab, under the aegis of the (then) Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), I held the AEC’s “Q” clearance.
In every instance, when assigned to a job requiring a clearance, I was briefed on the seriousness and responsibilities of the clearance and I signed statements to that effect — and — when I no longer had the need for the clearance, i.e., left the job, my clearance was discontinued. And again I was debriefed and signed statements verifying that I no longer had or was entitled to the clearance.
Frankly, I’m shocked — shocked to learn that these high muckety-mucks retain their clearances after leaving their jobs, no matter under what circumstances they left, favorable or unfavorable. It seems only sensible to withdraw a security clearance when one leaves the job requiring it. If the advice or consult of the departed one is so important to get a job done, then that person may be “granted” a temporary security clearance.
It should be de rigueur to discontinue a person’s security clearance when that person leaves the job — regardless of what level the job was. Discontinuing a clearance is no impediment to one’s First Amendment “right to speak” as long long as the “speech” does not contain classified information.
Robert F. Lynd