104 votes

Why do ex-government employees have security clearances?

Security clearances is something that qualifies you as an individual. It means that you have been evaluated and trusted to a determined security level. If you are working at Company A and get a ...
SJuan76's user avatar
  • 31.2k
62 votes

Why would the US President need briefings on UFOs?

An UFO is an Unidentified Flying Object. Usually the name is not applied when somebody sees a light prop plane overhead and cannot recognize the specific model or registration letters, but what the ...
o.m.'s user avatar
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62 votes
Accepted

Why would high-ranking politicians take classified documents to their personal residence?

Because they have to work on them there. Government leaders don't have a hard and fast line between work time and personal time like the rest of us. They have huge amounts of reading to do, and a ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
  • 15.2k
55 votes
Accepted

Why do ex-government employees have security clearances?

Simply? Even if you aren't in the role anymore, you're still a resource to be tapped. Pompeo's background was in law and business, not intelligence, when he got the CIA job. So if the Trump presidency ...
Carduus's user avatar
  • 17.2k
45 votes
Accepted

Why have the Venona materials not yet vindicated McCarthyism?

Why has the mainstream narrative continued to regard McCarthyism as "making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence"? Because there is no evidence that McCarthy was ...
Brythan's user avatar
  • 89.3k
34 votes
Accepted

If Hillary Clinton was authorized to declassify information, then why would information she possibly leaked be classified?

The Department of State, to include Hillary Clinton as the Secretary of State, does have Originator Classification Authority. This means she carried the authority to control the level at which ...
Drunk Cynic's user avatar
  • 10.2k
32 votes

Does a US President have to file any paperwork to declassify information?

According to this article from The Atlantic,, yes, he could claim that he declared them declassified and no paperwork would have been necessary. However, LegalEagle, in this video at 12:12, says that ...
cjs's user avatar
  • 1,828
31 votes

Why do ex-government employees have security clearances?

One misconception about clearances (which I might be detecting here) is that they are all you need to look at all the classified data in existence. That's false. To look at a piece of classified info ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 14.1k
30 votes

What was the TOP SECRET information in the Nunes Memo?

It was the FBI/Justice department that classified the information in the memo, not the committee. Example source: The details of FISA surveillance orders are classified, and they have long been ...
Brythan's user avatar
  • 89.3k
25 votes
Accepted

Can the President of the United States be denied security clearance?

No. Classified information exists pursuant to executive order (specifically, EO13526 at the moment). Congress has passed some laws to affect some portions of that (such as banning clearances for ...
cpast's user avatar
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25 votes
Accepted

Why did the FBI director recommend that Hillary Clinton not be charged?

The only possible way to answer this is to quote more from the official text of Comey's press release. I've added my own emphasis, however. Although there is evidence of potential violations of the ...
Bobson's user avatar
  • 23.9k
20 votes

Why would high-ranking politicians take classified documents to their personal residence?

On second thought, this is a surprisingly interesting question. Here's my take on it: First I think that people in such positions quickly lose respect for confidentiality. They keep reading stacks of ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 353
18 votes

Does a US President have to file any paperwork to declassify information?

Yes, there is a procedure President Obama issued Executive Order 13526. The document is long, but it lays out the procedures for declassifying information, including all of the mechanisms involved (...
Machavity's user avatar
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17 votes

Why would high-ranking politicians take classified documents to their personal residence?

Here's the real answer: most classified documents are not particularly secret and contain no important confidential information. As many media outlets have noted many years before the current scandal, ...
alphabet's user avatar
  • 521
16 votes
Accepted

Has a sitting US president ever revealed highly classified information?

Yes, Several times in the lead up to the war with Iraq, George W Bush revealed information from his PDB that was not only secret but his revealing of the information put some of our agents at risk of ...
SoylentGray's user avatar
  • 8,859
16 votes

Why do ex-government employees have security clearances?

Security clearances can be thought of as a kind of industry licensure that must be periodically renewed, like a medical practice license for doctors, or a bar certification for lawyers. Many private ...
Wes Sayeed's user avatar
15 votes

What was the TOP SECRET information in the Nunes Memo?

There are some excellent answers here. There are two things I'd add: Nunes edited the memo in the hours prior to its release. I'm not suggesting anything nefarious in this particular, but there may ...
Anthony's user avatar
  • 159
13 votes

Can presidential pardons be made and then classified as secret to avoid making the pardon public?

The Department of Justice is an office of the Executive. If the Chief Executive desires that they refrain from prosecuting a case, he may simply issue that order behind closed doors. There are very ...
Eikre's user avatar
  • 1,772
13 votes

Why would the US President need briefings on UFOs?

Now is this a real meeting and how comes? It appears to be, Trump said it in this interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Contrary to o.m.'s answer, the question in the interview seems to be ...
JJJ's user avatar
  • 38.9k
10 votes
Accepted

Were Presidents known to have discussed classified things with their wives?

This article by CNN lists out examples of Presidents who discussed classified things with their wives: Jacqueline Kennedy received the intelligence community's highly classified "Weekly ...
Panda's user avatar
  • 46.5k
10 votes
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Review of Hillary Clinton's email problem

Who first revealed that Hillary Clinton has used her family's private email server for official communications? Hillary Clinton's private email server was discovered through the official ...
Wes Sayeed's user avatar
9 votes
Accepted

What legitimate reason could Trump have to give Russia classified information

This has two components. There is probably no legitimate reason to disclose the portion of the highly classified information which is received from a sister intelligence agency under limited terms ...
ohwilleke's user avatar
  • 73k
9 votes
Accepted

What's the process through which classified documents are made public, and can some classified documents be destroyed or never made public?

The National Archives has a nice document describing the declassification review process. Yes, I think it is entirely possible that some documents are never declassified. For example Critical ...
Burt_Harris's user avatar
  • 7,967
9 votes

Why would high-ranking politicians take classified documents to their personal residence?

There's no single or simple answer to a question like this. some like Trump (or at least what some of his lawyers) insisted they can declassify at will and without paperwork such documents. some (...
Fizz's user avatar
  • 145k
8 votes
Accepted

Can presidential pardons be made and then classified as secret to avoid making the pardon public?

He could try to do this, but barring exceptional circumstances, the classification wouldn't hold up if the person had to actually use the pardon. And the fact that he tried to conceal the pardon ...
D M's user avatar
  • 2,346
8 votes

Can anyone explain why part of this Classification Designation is redacted?

To answer the banner issue, it's an issue of what information is blocked out. Typically, the space between the TOP SECRET and NOFORN is compartmentalized accesses that are required to view the ...
hszmv's user avatar
  • 16.1k
8 votes

What was the TOP SECRET information in the Nunes Memo?

According to Wired, the new information is that the application for a FISA extension was partly based on the Steele dossier, which was partly funded by Democrats. The memo also alleges that this ...
tim's user avatar
  • 36k
8 votes

Why do US Presidents seem to have difficulty in complying with the laws on returning classified documents?

Because security compliance is in general difficult in all but the lowest-security environments. Good compliance takes two things: systems/people to track and support compliance and, even more ...
cjs's user avatar
  • 1,828
8 votes

Why would high-ranking politicians take classified documents to their personal residence?

The highest-ranking officials in the US live in a security bubble. They have secret service details, armed escorts, armored limousines, fenced residences with every security precaution... As persons, ...
Ted Wrigley's user avatar
  • 67.7k

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