Hat tip:Boiling Frogs Post
4 January 2010
The Quest for Clearance
It was late spring 2007, and I had arrived right before sunset at Centerville’s new ‘in place’ for the 30 something techie crowd. I was supposed to meet two friends there, have a drink, and then head to the restaurant next door for an early dinner. As soon as I walked in I spotted both of them, and a third person, a man in his early thirties whom I’d never met before, I’ll call him ‘Joe,’ and headed towards their table. After brief introductions the trio resumed their conversation where they’d left off. The topic had to do with current hot jobs and the latest career trends in the area, which caters to the federal government…
I was listening only half-heartedly until one of my friends, a woman in her mid thirties who worked for a midsize travel agency, started talking about how she’d been waiting for the completion of the process to get her security clearance, and that she couldn’t wait to get ‘the darn thing,’ and with it her promotion and a 15% salary increase. Now that perked up my ears and grabbed my full attention. After all, I’d been intimately familiar with security clearances and related issues for several years and dealt with them extensively, working with hundreds of national security whistleblowers, and networking with attorneys. What I couldn’t understand was this:
Why in the world would a travel agent working in a private travel agency need or want to have a security clearance?!
So, I asked: ‘What do you need the clearance for?’
And she responded: ‘The agency I work for has a contract with the federal government. We provide airline tickets, rental car and hotel reservations for some federal employees…’
I asked again: ‘So why do you need clearance to do that?’
She said: ‘Well, the government agency requires that only those employees with security clearance handle their account, and since it is a fairly large account the travel agency I work for assigns several travel agents.’
After a brief a pause it dawned on me, ‘Oh, I guess your account is with one of THOSE agencies…DOD, CIA… gotcha…’
My friend interrupted: ‘No, actually it’s not. It’s the Department of Commerce. And it’s not even for their executive level people…just regular employees.’
I kept asking myself why in the world the Commerce Department would require travel agents with security clearance to handle their good ole ordinary travel arrangements.
I guess I was thinking out loud because my friend tried to justify, well, at least her end of this deal: ‘The point is they pay much bigger bucks to my employer, and my employer pays those of us with clearance who handle this account 15% more in salary than the travel agents with no clearance who have regular accounts…’
I guess it made sense; perfectly. Government agencies don’t pay from their own pockets; they have at their disposal unlimited access to taxpayers’ dollars.
by Sibel Edmonds
hat tip: Boiling Frogs Post
Monday, 23. November 2009
It’s Time to Get the Facts Straight
I want to revisit a topic which happens to be extremely important to me, both personally and politically, and even more important to our civil liberties.
Some of you have already read my brief piece on Richard Horn & the CIA dishing out $3 million to buy silence in this narco scandal. Those of you who have not read it click here and read it – because this story also goes to the heart of a very significant and ongoing issue: The State Secrets Privilege.
My recent heads-up piece on Horn focused mainly on the CIA’s attempt to hush another narco scandal where the agency was directly and actively involved. Although I introduced Horn as ‘another recipient of the government’s State Secrets Privilege invocation’, I didn’t delve into the significance of this case on this repeatedly used and abused draconian privilege. This was partly due to wrongly assuming that the media, at least the alternative media, would have gotten all over it since lately the SSP has been a quite fashionable and talked about topic among the wanna-be progressive community. Well, I was wrong. Despite the scandalous nature of the case, and despite the massive implications to SSP, those who’ve been publicizing themselves and cashing in using SSP did not touch or mention the case.
The last time I wrote about the State Secrets Privilege and how it was being misrepresented and twisted by puppets in the media my blood was very close to reaching the boiling point. This time, with this recent Horn case and its direct SSP implications, my blood actually did reach the boiling point. In fact it is boiling now!
Here are a few excerpts from my previous piece on the State Secrets Privilege, starting with the intro:
During the past few months I have been actively following the latest activity on the state secrets privilege (SSP). First, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this issue of extreme importance to our civil liberties and constitutional rights was finally getting long-over-due and deserved attention from the media. After all, the memories of fighting SSP in the federal courts all the way up to the Supreme Court, holding press conferences together with the ACLU to bring needed media attention to this draconian abuse, making the rounds in Congress to have them address this ‘privilege’ through legislation to restrict its misuse and abuse, are still fresh and vivid for me.
Then I started detecting some troubling common trends showing up in media reports and subsequently in discussions and statements within Congress.