[ExI] Security clearances

spike spike66 at att.net
Thu May 12 19:24:37 UTC 2016



From: extropy-chat [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of William Flynn Wallace
Sent: Thursday, May 12, 2016 11:35 AM
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Subject: Re: [ExI] Security clearances



Bill said he smoked weed a couple of times, didn’t inhale.   spike


>…  The country is moving towards legalizing pot (while it is increasing the penalties for opioids).  It is legal in Colorado and I hope the domino effect holds for these laws which have cost billions to enforce to little avail except to put minor offenders in jail for lengthy terms…bill w



BillW, this is another case of the incident itself is irrelevant, but lying about it is critical.  In a security clearance investigation, they come out and tell you they won’t disqualify you for having an affair, for smoking weed, for minor stuff, but they need to know what they need to know about it in order to do their jobs, because their asses are on the line too.  They make clear: if you did something, tell it.  Who was with you?  When did you do it?  Where did you do it?  How many times did you do it?  etc.  


Then what happens is the security people take your list, go try to find those people.  They ask them what happened.  If the stories match, they don’t disqualify the candidate.


Case in point: we had guy in the icebox, which is where you work before a clearance investigation is complete.  Those usually take about a year, less if you have had a really squeaky clean life, lived in one place the whole time and they can find everybody on your list, and everybody’s story matches.  Longer if they find discrepancies.  We had this guy in the icebox for less than a year but almost; so he had already made a career sacrifice to even be there, and we had been paying him mostly on overhead this whole time and trying to keep him busy on stuff that we knew didn’t matter.


On his application was the question: have you ever been arrested.  Now that is an easy one.  It doesn’t include being pulled over for speeding, it means have you had directed at you the words “…right to remain silent…” and he wrote no.  The investigators learned of a fight that had occurred after a football game at San Jose State and the campus cops arrested these two, but being an internal affair hadn’t given them Miranda rights (these kinds of incidents are settled by student council usually.)  The two brawlers hadn’t done any serious damage to each other, no broken noses, no blood on the ground, just your usual shit that happens kind of incident, so…  They took them over to the guard station, both guys were sorry it happened, won’t happen again, and please please don’t let this go on our academic record etc.  The campus chief decided it was a no-harm no-foul, the two were about the same size, so it wasn’t one guy bullying the other, and our guy was second in his class, so… they let them go an hour later, but gave him a written reprimand.


The security officers talked to people, learned of the incident, found the letter in his file, decided this constituted an arrest, and technically it was (because they had both guys in those plastic zip-tie cuffs) even though they kept it as an on-campus matter with no local constables involved.  The investigators looked at the way the arrest question was posed and that “no” answer.  After he sat in the icebox for almost a year, they said no tickets for you.  He left the company a week later.


This whole thing takes on a new meaning in our times.  We know the security clearance investigations must make special accommodations for at least two elected positions, president and VP.  But the Secretary of State is an appointed position (as is the CEO of a defense company is appointed by the board of directors.)  The security team does not answer to the company, to the directors, to the outgoing CEO, to anyone other than their boss in Washington, so they do what they do, regardless of rank.


What we are seeing now is a Secretary of State claiming or trying to claim a right that the position does not have.  She wants to tell the government what information she will give them and what she will not.  I dropped my jaw when she said of a private server under subpoena that it would stay private.  This astonishment was compounded when we learned that she was erasing evidence on that server.  Secretaries of State, current or former, do not have the authority to tell the FBI what evidence they may have.  If you or I am under subpoena, we are not allowed to tell the FBI this potential evidence is private property or that their investigation is improper or that the whole thing is a conspiracy.  Mrs. Clinton and I do not have the legal authority to do that.  Yet she did it, and didn’t get frog-marched to San Quentin in chains.  You or I would.


Clearly there is a double standard.  


OK then, I propose we admit it and define it, just as we do in law.  Let us continue to claim that all animals on the farm are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.  Let us define which laws the more-equal animals no longer need to follow, but that the Jeffery Sterlings of the world still do.  Who are these more-equal people?  Does it include just those three, president, VP and SecState?  What about the SecState’s staff?  Which ones are immune from law?  Which laws?  All of them?  Or just those which shouldn’t have been asked?  Those having to do with lifestyle?  Such as… hmmm… sex, drugs and say… murder?  And while we are asking, what precisely is the limit to the notion of a presidential pardon?  Where does the constitution say a sitting president may not self-pardon?  If we admit that this is theoretically possible and that Nixon could have just pardoned himself and held his office, I see no limitations on grabbing arbitrary power and self-pardoning all the way up.


I can’t trust either major party nominee to not see this logical fallacy in the whole notion of executive pardon.  I don’t trust either of them to not abuse it.  We have one of those candidates who is already almost doing that, and she isn’t even entitled to legal immunity.  Yet.  


Without strict definition, the presidential pardon is a ticket to totalitarianism far worse than Germany’s bitter experience.




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