The White House is talking about revoking the security clearances of former employees. I’ll admit, I didn’t know that former employees still had security access.
There are many kinds of security clearances and many different types of access. CIA directors and deputy directors, for example, have access to some of America’s most closely-held secrets. Your standard CIA employee, while still have a high security clearance by federal government standards, does not have the same level of access. And when a CIA director leaves, he or she is bumped to down to the basic level of clearance.
“When I walked out the door, I was actually removed from access to a whole bunch of extremely sensitive material because there was a determination made that I didn’t need to have that — the government didn’t need me to have that,” former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell told CBS News on Monday. “But I kept that basic level of security clearance.”
Former high-ranking government employees can in some cases ask for and receive a security briefing on a certain subject. But the purpose of extending security clearances is to help the U.S. government, not the people who have them.
It seems to me that any good security protocol would limit the number of people with access to the minimum number necessary and giving access to former employees would never be a good idea. In the private sector, former employees would never be granted access to rifle through the secrets of their former employer. Why would we accept a lower standard in the public sector?
I did not realize that former federal employees still had security access. They never should have and the Trump Administration would do the nation a service to end the practice now. It is just a security hole waiting to be exploited (and has already been exploited).