Security clearances

It is the custom for presidential nominees of the Democratic and Republican parties to get security briefings from members of the intelligence agencies, presumably so that they have a better awareness of foreign policy issues and are better prepared when one of them eventually takes office. They do not have to get security clearances for this purpose. This briefing process is not required by law but has evolved over time and has been uncontroversial.

This year, things are different. The controversy over Hillary Clinton using her private email server to send official correspondence some of which were classified has resulted in the Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan suggesting that she could not be trusted to receive those briefings. Meanwhile, some intelligence professionals are uneasy about briefing Donald Trump, though the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that he will be briefed.

Interestingly, all members of Congress are exempt from having to get security clearances before receiving intelligence briefings, the idea being that the people have entrusted them with state secrets by voting them into office. Those who deal with classified information can be required to take an oath of confidentiality.

Staffers on sensitive Congressional committees can get security clearances but those who work in the offices of for the members cannot. Cabinet members need to get security clearances, so presumably Clinton got one before she became Secretary of State.


  1. says

    When I was setting up the email server there was some hue and cry about uncleared people wandering around with executive office building passes, so I got sat down by a Secret Service agent to fill out a stack of stuff for my clearance. I hate filling out forms so I finally asked the guy “Do you have another internet firewalls expert handy?” (this was 1992, there were about a half dozen internet firewalls experts worldwide…) So the way it was done is I signed the thing and handed it to him un- filled out and we agreed that I was “in the process of getting my clearance” and everything was smiles and rainbows.

    There are lots of people who are supposed to have clearances who are “in the process” I assume. There are also people who are supposed to get briefings who don’t. Various sources say that Reagan was completely uninterested in the nuclear weapons command/control briefing (and that’s partly why the “football” under his reign had a password of 8 digits of zeros) Clinton apparently didn’t even attend that briefing.

    Hillary presumably got the briefings on how to handle classified material. But those rules don’t apply to her because she’s a lesser evil than Donald Trump.

  2. Trickster Goddess says

    How soon before Trump starts blabbing security briefing info in his campaign speeches and twitter feed?

  3. johnson catman says

    Trickster Goddess @2:
    That was my thought about The Orange One having access to classified information: he would be so proud that he was special that he would gladly demonstrate it by sharing some of the info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *