Multiple government organizations recently completed an extensive pre-publication review of my résumé and the length and process of the review of this simple document shows how serious of an offense it is when Edward Snowden and others disclose classified information without authorization.
I worked for, in support of, or at multiple government organizations throughout my Army and civilian contracting career. I contacted six of these organizations to see if they needed to conduct a pre-publication review of my résumé before I publicly used it. Three of them ended up doing so.
Before I explain what I had to do, I want to note a recent story in the Washington Post that talks about former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It alleges that he may have violated pre-publication review procedures that bind everyone who has ever had a security clearance or access to controlled information.
The account the Washington Post provides doesn’t say Panetta improperly revealed classified or controlled information. However, it does say he would have done so had not the CIA and DOD approved his book (Worthy Fights) since he submitted it to his editor prior to receiving their approval. In other words, the Post alleges he did not wait for the CIA and/or DOD to give him the okay before he shared his writings with others.
I don’t know if the Post story is accurate. But if it is, Panetta has no excuses. This isn’t to say he’s like Edward Snowden. Snowden is a traitor who caused exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States by revealing classified information to enemies. Nevertheless, Panetta should have known he needed to get the pre-publication security reviews completed before he shared his book with anyone. The DOD regularly advises its employees of this through documents such as, “Frequently Asked Questions for Department of Defense Security and Policy Reviews”:
Reminder: Pre-publication reviews and protection of classified information are a lifetime responsibility. Your responsibility does not end when you end your association with the Department of Defense. Unauthorized disclosure of classified information (whether in a printed article, manuscript or book, on a blog, on a public website or provided to the media), even when it appears in the public domain, does not automatically result in declassification of the information. The information remains classiﬁed and must be protected until the US government official with original classification authority (OCA) declassiﬁes the information.
This is why I checked with multiple organizations about doing a pre-publication review of my résumé.
I started by handwriting it and sending it to the NSA. Why did I hand write it? Because of NSA requirements. Here is a “Résumé Do’s and Don’ts” from the NSA website. Notice what it says on the last page in the last paragraph:
“Inclusion of classified information, inadvertent or not, may result in the forfeiture of equipment if used in the preparation of the resume.”
Essentially that means if I would have typed my résumé on my personal computer and the NSA found something it didn’t like it could have wiped my hard drive. It’s doubtful that would’ve happened but I didn’t want to take any chances. Hence I handwrote it.
While I waited for the NSA to complete its review (which ultimately took about two months from the time I sent it in the mail until I received an approval letter in the mail) I contacted four other organizations. I also contacted the Department of Defense Office of Security Review. The DOD and one other organization advised me they wanted to conduct a pre-publication review of my résumé; the others did not.
In the end, the total amount of time it took for me to get my résumé reviewed and approved by all three organizations was between three and four months . . . even as my résumé is only two pages.
This lengthy and involved process shows how seriously the government takes (selected) unauthorized disclosures of controlled and classified information. It’s a big deal when people like Edward Snowden commit treason. And it’s a big deal when current or former government personnel disclose controlled or classified information without proper authorization.
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