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Sun Aug 25, 2013, 05:49 AM


I have seen it quoted over and over again, here and elsewhere, that there are 1 million spies with

top secret clearance. Not sure the source of this, or if it's true. But assuming it is accurate, by my calculations my county alone would have 437 spies (presuming they were distributed evenly by population, which also probably is not how it is done, but for the sake of argument, lets pretend that's how it's done for a minute). 437. Now, I'm not sure what to think about this information, but I do know this...That's a LOT of spies. nt

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Reply I have seen it quoted over and over again, here and elsewhere, that there are 1 million spies with (Original post)
silvershadow Aug 2013 OP
Recursion Aug 2013 #1
silvershadow Aug 2013 #2
Recursion Aug 2013 #3
silvershadow Aug 2013 #5
MADem Aug 2013 #4
silvershadow Aug 2013 #6
MADem Aug 2013 #7

Response to silvershadow (Original post)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 05:53 AM

1. I think 1 million is the number of people with TS/SCI

Few of them are "spies"; most of them are administrators. Having a clearance doesn't mean you get to see anything in particular, you still have to have a reason to be read in, but if you need to be read in to even one thing you need the clearance. (So, for example, my clearance back in the day was because I could see the personnel records of the people in my battalion.)

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Response to Recursion (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 05:59 AM

2. Ok, that helps explain it some. So, it sounds like the NSA just basically gives out top secret


clearance to a whole lotta folks, rather than just the spies, if I understand you correctly. Makes sense, more so than how I was thinking about it.

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Response to silvershadow (Reply #2)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 06:05 AM

3. NSA doesn't do its own clearances, that's through DoD

The departments (Defense, State, Agriculture, etc.) clear their own personnel and contractors; since NSA is part of the DoD, it uses Defense's clearance systems (there are differences; some departments can't ask about drug use, some can't use polygraphs, etc.)

Overclearance is a real problem, and it goes hand in hand with overclassification. Not just that too many things are classified but that they're classified too highly when they are, so that for example having just a Secret clearance doesn't really let you do anything anymore.

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Response to Recursion (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 06:31 AM

5. It sounds like they have compartmentalized the compartmentalization dept! LOL Well,


even knowing this, it doesn't appease me on the fundamentals of what is going on. But, since we are in the eye of the storm, I am really thinking about all of this. Thank you for the info, and for not having me hidden. I may be on one side of the divided debate here, but at least they haven't ran me off yet. I am still here, still asking questions, still engaging, and that's the most important part in the end. (Well, that, and making sure they don't try to criminalize being a Democrat.)

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Response to silvershadow (Original post)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 06:27 AM

4. Not everyone with a TS clearance is a spy.

Many are just ordinary working stiffs--for example, the administrative assistant to many upper echelon flag/general officers will need a TS, because they will be handling the materials that cross their boss's desk.

Also, there is a difference between CLEARANCE and ACCESS, that many people do not appreciate.

Snowden, as a systems administrator, was given more latitude than he should have gotten, because he was an "equipment fixer" and could access many materials.

However, the average person working on a project, or having an area of expertise, will be given a clearance to work on those issues, but will not be given access to materials unrelated to that person's area.

For more about access, this article is helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensitive_Compartmented_Information

Eligibility for access to SCI is determined by a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI) or periodic reinvestigation.[4] Because the same investigation is used to grant Top Secret clearances, the two are often written together as TS/SCI. Eligibility alone does not confer access to any specific SCI material - it is simply a qualification. One must receive explicit permission to access an SCI control system or compartment. This process may include a polygraph or other approved investigative or adjudicative action.[5] Once it is determined a person should have access to a SCI compartment, they sign a nondisclosure agreement, are "read in" or indoctrinated, and the fact of this access is recorded in a local access register or in a computer database. Upon termination from a particular compartment, the employee again signs the nondisclosure agreement.

Much more explanatory detail at the link.

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Response to MADem (Reply #4)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 06:45 AM

6. Ok, thank you for this. That tells me a lot, too. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it all,


as we all are, no matter which side of the debate here we might be on at this moment or ever. But knowing the nature of the job helps me. I was trying to figure out how he just had *that much stuff (to the extent he had/has). Here's another question, that brings up: I was reading his bio on a few different web sources, and so far it sounds *so sketchy it makes me believe he was CIA or something the entire time. How on earth does our government, at the highest time of national security in its' 238-year history, hire a kid with his sketchy background to handle the most secretive program ever? It just doesn't make sense to me. Do you think he was goaded into it as a patsy by those who hired him, as there was no other way to "reveal" the program to the masses? Like, do you think they wanted to blow the lid off to let the steam out of the pressure cooker, knowing we would have a debate next but condition us through all the tricks in their black bag of totally unrelated-to-terrorism tricks? You know, the old-school social engineering, public opinion, all manner of television theatrics, etc I realize that's a little off-topic from my original post, and I may post this separately, but enquiring minds want to know. (My mom has told me a number of times as an adult that when I was a child I was the most inquisitive child she had ever seen, but that's an aside). Question comes up because I whatever else we have debated here, I'm trying to figure out whether he's the smartest, most naive person ever in history or if he's the dumbest guy in the world to have ever knocked on the door at the NSA, and when he arrived the PTB said "Here's our patsy"...

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Response to silvershadow (Reply #6)

Sun Aug 25, 2013, 07:09 AM

7. It doesn't make much sense to me, either, to be honest.

However, during the Bush years, even as the whole mindset became more "With us or agin' us" the execution of the strategy became more ham-handed and incompetent (TSA, e.g.--so clumsy; and the agents just aren't paid enough to make smart people want to do the work). Reliance on contracted help is a two-edged sword--overall, it is cheaper (no pensions to pay out), but in the short term there can be overruns--waste, fraud, abuse, that kind of thing. Cheney and Rummy LOVED contracted help because they were in that business. I am of the mindset that contracted workers are useful, but they need direct, continuous, close military or civil service oversight--don't leave a bunch of foxes to watch our henhouses.

I can't figure Snowden out either. I don't think he's a simple patriot motivated by love of country, despite his pretty speech in Hong Kong. I'd love it if he was a CIA asset with a long end game we can't figure out, but I think that's a bit of a pony-digging wish. His associations, and his written statements going back years on ARS Technica, make me suspect that his motivation was Ron/Rand Paul Libertarianism, with a dash of anarchistic "just because I can" tendencies, but I honestly don't know. For a guy that seems desperate to come off as a thinker, he went about this in a very stupid way. Was he naive, was he dumb, or is he, in fact, in the place where he always intended to be, and was he a paid asset of Putin's? There's just no way of knowing. They've spirited him out of Moscow, he's not even living in that swinging hotspot--who knows where they've got him stashed? The fact that he's not speaking is odd, too--is that all about "saving the brand" for the Poitras documentary (like hiding away the Kardashian baby to create a buzz?) or is something else going on?

He'll speak, eventually, and then maybe we'll know more. Or maybe we won't.

Many questions--I have no answers (and I doubt anyone else does, either--no matter how vociferously they insist that they "know" this guy...).

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