Monday, February 12, 2018

White House Playing Loosey Goosey With Security Clearances

In my column a few weeks ago, I wrote about Trump’s love of chaos.  Nothing exemplifies “chaos” better than staff turn-over.  For those of you who have ever worked in an office, you know the chaos, disruption, and morale problems caused by just one firing.  Imagine 39 in one year! In any work environment, staff chaos rests squarely on the shoulders of the leader and speaks volumes about his leadership ability.  

I’M SPEAKING about the incompetency of Donald Trump to run the Oval Office and his administration.  Last week, the number of those fired, forced out, or just couldn’t take it anymore, rose to a whopping 39!  And those are just the super grades.  There’s no telling how many peons lost their positions. You will remember Trump’s words to us during the campaign, “I know the best people.  I will hire the best people.”  Based on my knowledge of the quality people hired by past presidents, those words were comforting to me, until I realized that Trump’s definition of “best people” and my definition of “best people” were worlds apart. 

A LEADER is only as good as the people he surrounds himself with. Few of his Cabinet appointees held the qualifications to serve in the position to which they were appointed.  In one year, we have seen two of his best people indicted with more indictments surely to come.  We have seen Russian sympathizers fired.  We have seen a Cabinet official forced out for taking expensive charter flights on the tax payer’s dime.  Three agency directors were fired after their public racist comments were revealed.  A goof ball fired before he even reported to work.  These people all had the same thing in common—the President’s support until the hue and cry from the American people became too loud to ignore and he had no choice but take action.  Obviously, Trump only likes saying “you’re fired” when it is his idea.  

JUST FOR the record, I celebrated when many of those people were fired.  They were NOT the best people.  I am saying that if Trump was a good leader, he would have recognized the “best” people from the git go and avoided this chaos. 

THIS PAST week, we learned that the Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, had beat both of his ex-wives.  That in itself was not that surprising with this Administration. What was shocking, was the fact that this information was discovered by the FBI in his background investigation for his Top-Secret security clearance last year.  Rob Porter was privy to the same sensitive information as the President and had direct control over disseminating that information to the President.  Rob Porter personally told White House Counsel Don McGahn in January, 2017, that there was a problem with his security clearance.

SOMEBODY NEEDS to go to jail for mishandling classified information.  It is not clear what Trump knew and when he knew it.  However, his boss John Kelly, and White House Counsel Don McGahn, knew that Rob Porter would never be granted a Top-Secret security clearance.  They opted to let him continue to handle Top-Secret information even though he could not meet the criteria for a security clearance and hoped he wouldn’t get caught.  That is a criminal offense!  It is clearly stated in U.S. Code, Title 18, that “anyone who knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person classified information,” shall be prosecuted.  Simply, that means anyone who allowed Porter access to State secrets should be prosecuted!  And, the same should apply to Jared Kushner.  We know that he does not have a security clearance, yet is privy to that level of intelligence every day.  Another wife beater resigned in the wake of the Rob Porter scandal—Speech Writer David Sorenson.  Little has been said of his circumstances thus far but it will come out eventually.

AS A FORMER employee of the National Security Agency, I know first-hand that you never play loosie-goosy with security clearances.  All personnel must wear their badges at all times.  These badges are color-coded for your type of security clearance.  As an employee, you would never hand a document to a person unless they were cleared to receive the classification of the document. An Interim clearance does not qualify you to handle Top Secret documents.  I know.  I had one for many months waiting on my special background investigation (SBI). Your badge is checked at the gate.  If you forgot your badge, you are sent home.  If you are caught at work with your badge off, you will be reprimanded.  If you are caught wearing your badge outside of the work environment, you could face termination.  There should be a Twitter tag for the oval office staff, “#letmeseeyourbadge.”

MEANWHILE, Trump is crying a river over the loss of this “good man.”  Trump calls every man he fires, a “good man.”  Trump said for the record, “He says he’s innocent.  You have to remember that.  Is there still due process?”  You, Mr. Trump, are the last person who should say the words “due process,” but you’ll find out soon enough if it still exists.

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