Nomination For A Hero Badge

A lot of focus on the storage and movement of things (classified documents). Not much discussion on the vetting process for obtaining and then maintaining a security clearance. Folks missed the 900 pound gorilla in the room. The documents were recovered during the execution of a search warrant for, wait for it…. a marijuana growing operation.

I have investigated a number of marijuana growing operations. These grows ranged from four to five plants in a closet under a grow light to thousands of plants scattered across a cedar break to a thousand plants under lights in a building specifically set up for that purpose.

Big or small operations the growers shared similar traits. They all felt that they did nothing wrong. Sitting there in handcuffs they all claimed the high moral ground. They attempted to equate their arrest status with that as prisoners of war. For lack of a better term, they were all tinkerers. The growers spent a great deal of time and effort to perfect their growing techniques. That mindset was present no matter what size of the growing operation. While the growing operation was clandestine, there were obvious signs of the growing operation, once attention was focused on the location.

Used to be, that a security clearance investigation included a home visit and an interview of the neighbors. Had that been done, this guy may have been caught during the visit. That would have ended his clearance and thus access to classified documents. Illegal drug use is a disqualifier for keeping a security clearance. That being said random drug testing should be required. This isn’t about rights. At the outset there is an agreement that in order to maintain a clearance the holder of the clearance must conform to requirements.

For instance, a holder of a security clearance does not have to report his/her daily interaction with Abdul at the local Haji mart. However, if Abdul starts dating one’s daughter and dropping by the house, then the holder of the clearance has an obligation to notify the site security officer. That is just the way it is.

For a brief time I worked in the security section of the office of the President. I was assigned the task of culling applicants for positions, prior to their applications being submitted for a full security review. I was given a selected list of disqualifiers. Marijuana use was not a disqualifier, as long as it wasn’t recent. Sale and distribution of drugs, including marijuana was a disqualifier. Lying on the application was a disqualifier.

I pointed out that there were two parties to drug distribution. The seller and the buyer. Both sides committed the offense of delivery/distribution no matter which side of the fence they fell on. Even passing a joint at a party was technically an act of possession and delivery. Plenty of applicants admitted to smoking marijuana. Not one admitted to purchasing or selling marijuana. My point that only good looking women got free dope fell on deaf ears. My fall back position was that, drug use aside, the misstatements regarding drug use, on the application, constituted lying on the application. That position was even less popular. It was the Obama White House, dope use and lies constituted acceptable behavior.

Yeah, the contractor had an obligation to follow the rules. At the same time the organization had an obligation to enforce the rules. Failure to do so, established a laissez-faire culture where individuals get to pick and choose which rules to follow and which to ignore.