Skip to comments.Details of Classified Document Handling Procedures
Posted on 07/22/2004 1:34:39 PM PDT by tang-soo
I've posted this top a few other threads. Please ignore if you've seen it before ...
I called our local Clear Channel station the night after this story broke and spoke for about 10 minutes describing the procedures used to handle classified information. The following is a basic description of what I said ...
1) A person who wishes to review classified information at a given facility must have his/her clearance on file with the security office that has legal custody of the information.
2) Once they arrive to the facility, they must show their credentials to identify themselves, sign into the facility - maybe issued a badge indicating their clearance and access and escorted to the room where the material will be reviewed.
3) A quick sidebar on program access and document marking. The term "Access" refers to the concept of "Need to Know". The fact you have a clearance that matches the level required to have access to the material does not establish your "need to know". It must be determined by someone like a program manager or security personnel that your job function requires access to certain information. If you are granted access, you may be required to go through another level of investigation. Some levels of access (at least the ones I was exposed to) are known as "Special Need to Know" or SNTK (pronounced Snick) and "Special Access Required" or SAR. Programs with these designations require special prominent markings on each page of a classified document along with the classification level. Believe it or not, after all the markings (top and bottom) there usually is enough room for the content of the page.
4) I should also mention that each paragraph of the document starts with a designation indicating the classification level of that paragraph. This would look like (U), (C), (S), (S/SAR), (S/SNTK), (TS) or (TS/SAR). Every page is marked top and bottom based upon the highest level of any paragraph on that page. ie. it's possible to have an unclassified page in a top secret document. And as you might think, the overall classification of the document is classified at the highest level of any single page.
5) This next point is especially important in light of the current investigation. Every page is marked "Page x of y Pages". For example page 13 of a 32 page document would be clearly marked in the banner section of the page "Page 13 of 32 Pages". This is done for obvious reasons - if any page is missing, it can be accounted for. The page count is also part of the document's registration in the security catalog.
6) Once in the room, the container (probably a safe i.e. a very heavy duty file cabinet with heavy combination locks with different combinations on each drawer) is opened. This process should be logged by security personnel.
7) The documents are taken from the container. All classified documents are stamped (each page) with items such as a control number, date of creation, level of clearance (top and bottom), program name indicating what access is required and eventual dispensation (i.e. when the material is designated to destruction if applicable).
8) If the documents are classified "top secret", each document has a log on the cover sheet. EACH time a person has access to this information, they must sign and date it.
9) The material is not to be removed (ie stuffed in underwear, socks ... etc) without approval of security personnel. If this takes place, the transfer is documented on both ends of the transaction. If the material is top secret or above, it requires at least two cleared people as an escort.
10) If you travel overnight, the material is not to be kept in your hotel/motel room but instead must be taken to an approved facility. Arrangements are usually made in advance. Security people do not like suprise visits. They like to make them but not receive them.
11) No photocopies are to be made or notes copied without the proper security personnel logging this activity and making appropriate markings (mentioned above) on the documents.
12) This material is frequently audited by internal security agents and is subject to "suprise" audits conducted by military, FBI or other external security personnel.
13) People given access to this type of information are briefed and attend classes on how to handle this material - ie. no excuses for "honest mistakes".
14) As the NSA for the Clinton administration, I imagine Berger was personally responsible that this protocol was designed, implemented and enforced by his staff - at least in an appropriately managed administration. This would apply to government employees, officials, military personnel and civilians under contract and extended clearances issued by the DoD, DoE or other intel operations.
15) As such, ANYBODY who has worked in this environment and heard Mr. Berger's comments yesterday about being "sloppy" and "an honest mistake" knows beyond any doubt that he was not only lying, but this was a premeditated act.
16) I left the aerospace business(as an engineer) in 1993 so these comments are based upon the security world of that time. Only Lord knows how the Clinton administration changed things during his 8 years.
That summarizes what I mentioned to Steve Cannon of WTVN 610 AM (Columbus, Oh) the night after the story broke.
I should have added another issue that may pertain to the current case. The concept of "Working papers". This would be scratch material that is never intended to end up in a document being prepared. For example, preliminary drafts, graphics with various scales, handdrawn sketches, ... etc. Usually, this kind of material is kept in a folder or envelope which is marked as a regular document would be. This folder falls under the same criteria as a regular document ie locking up when not being used ... etc. Usually, this material is collected on a regular basis when the work is finished and tossed into a "burn barrel". The burn barrel is emptied periodically by cleared personnel and either burned or processed through an approved shredder (ends up as dust).
The latest word I have heard is that this material was classified "Code Word Access". Folks, if true, this is "Above Top Secret" ie. John Pollard type material.
So the question comes to mind, why would anybody do such a thing under conditions where he knew he stood a huge chance of being caught? The mission must have been extraordinary for such a risk. The presumption is that he wanted to alter or remove and destroy material that implicated either himself, or quite possibly Mr. Clinton. The fact that some of the material is "lost" implies that regardless of the consequences, the mission has been accomplished with his current situation collateral damage.
Webb Hubbell's infamous quote "I guess I'll have to roll over again for Hillary" comes to mind. Another example of the Clinton whirlwind leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
"15) As such, ANYBODY who has worked in this environment and heard Mr. Berger's comments yesterday about being "sloppy" and "an honest mistake" knows beyond any doubt that he was not only lying, but this was a premeditated act."
Without a doubt.
The dims are hopeful the media can succeed. The media and talking heads are trying to make it sound innocent and inadvertent. They are playing on the fact that most people don't know what is required to handle Top Secret code word documents. They are trying to trivialize things and put actions into common word terms. It is not that way at all. Nothing is simple about top secret.
The toon ex-President laughing about it says all you need to know about his view of national security. And we wonder what caused the attacks on 9/11.
I mention this because Berger's lawyer yesterday made statements which seem to imply that it is only the original document and not information gleaned from it which is classified and non-discloseable. Of course, the press played happily along.
What Berger did would get any sailor 30 years to life in Leavenworth. Let's see what happens to another teflon Clintonite.
Great post. But I have yet to get an answer to my question, "why does Berger still have a TS clearance?". My experience in Classified Printing and Pub. for USAREUR in the early 70's is that upon leaving one's position, he is debriefed and further access is prohibited, despite personal authorship or involvement.
I think the most Berger will get is three years, unless treason can be shown.
I think this is the applicable code:
I believe that this is the applicable US criminal Code:
Sec. 2071. - Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally
Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.
Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term ''office'' does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States
Absolutely dead-on correct. The brazenness of of the lie, and the stupifying complicity of the Beltway press, is breathtaking.
Thanks for you detailed procedural explanations, here's some more general material:
BTW, Berger would most likely have been in the Archives not under clearance, but under the waiver of clearance provided for in XO 12958, above.
Yes, it's hard to believe a National Security Advisor doesn't know stuff any junior employee with a Confidential Clearance has to know.
Some more statutes to chew on (found in an old post about John Deutch):
109. (U) Title 18 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 793, "Gathering,
transmitting or losing defense information" specifies in paragraph (f):
Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any
document, writing,... or information, relating to national defense ...
through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper
place of custody ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more
than ten years, or both.
110. (U) Title 18 U.S.C. § 798, "Disclosure of classified information"
specifies in part:
Whoever, knowingly and willfully ... uses in any manner prejudicial to the
safety or interest of the United States ... any classified information ...
obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the
communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been
obtained by such processes ... shall be fined under this title or imprisoned
not more than ten years, or both.
111. (U) Title 18 U.S.C. § 1924, "Unauthorized removal and retention of
classified documents or material" specifies:
Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor or consultant of the United
States, and, by virtue of his office, employment, position or contract,
becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified
information of the United States, knowingly removes such documents or
materials without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or
materials at an unauthorized location shall be fined not more than $1,000,
or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
Once the document is stolen - they would know the number, etc - but what about the content of the document?
Thank you for sharing your great insight. Good information.
Check XO 12958 (link in my post #8).
About halfway through the XO, you will note the access provisions for historians and former presidential appointees, which of course Berger is.
He was in the Archives under a clearance waiver (again, the XO explains it).
I'm certain this is why Bruce Lindsey was involved, as the middleman between Berger and the Archives security staff and the guy who assisted in preparing the formal docs for the waiver.
BTW, Bill Clinton has ultimate adminstrative authority over the classified docs from his administration, and has clearly delegated the legal paperwork to Lindsey, at least in this case.
Good. 10 years is better.
I'm not sure. I do know that the National Archives has procedures for "Emergency Destruction" of sensitive material, so I would guess that there is only one authorized copy of certain top secrets in the archives.
Thanks for this valuable post.
This is a great post, one I've quoted on other threads when you posted it before. Personally, I wish someone would send a copy to all the talking heads--perhaps starting with Bill O'Reilly, who can't seem to get a grip on the reason Berger was criminally wrong!
Just a thought (and perhaps someone else has mentioned it):
The dems have questioned the timing of the leak, the inference being to draw attention away from the 9/11 report or to damage Kerry prior to the convention.
Maybe they are telling a 1/2 truth.
I do believe the dems are the source of the leak. And the timing is very, very important.
re:".....The latest word I have heard is that this material was classified "Code Word Access". Folks, if true, this is "Above Top Secret" ie. John Pollard type material.
So the question comes to mind, why would anybody do such a thing under conditions where he knew he stood a huge chance of being caught? The mission must have been extraordinary for such a risk. The presumption is that he wanted to alter or remove and destroy material that implicated either himself, or quite possibly Mr. Clinton. The fact that some of the material is "lost" implies that regardless of the consequences, the mission has been accomplished with his current situation collateral damage....."
The question of the day has been WHY? Why would Berger risk all? Who is he protecting? What leverage does someone have to do such a stupid, stupid thing...so obvious and blatant?
And this is where the timing comes in. If you were involved,, knew of the investigation, Berger was cooperating and the story could grow very, very long legs if the press had a slow week, what would you do?
Leak the story right before the release of the 9/11 report which just happens to be prior to the convention and pray to God the other events knock it out of the spotlight until our short attention span turns to another issue.
A strong possibility may be the source of the leak may lead to the answers of the questions we have been asking.
In this spin I see another instance in which the world's sad today, it's gone bad today, black's white today and day's night today. Sandy Berger walks out of the National Archives with classified documents in his briefcase, pants, and socks. Who's the leaker? Bush!
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