Security Clearances and Top Secret are terms that we have heard far too often in the last few months. From an FBI raid on Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, to Biden’s garage and beach house, to Mike Pence’s home, classified documents that never should have seen daylight appear in odd places.
Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old junior enlisted airman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, who has been charged as being behind the leak of classified U.S. military and U.S. intelligence documents had a high-level top security clearance that raises even more questions about why he had access to such documents in his work as an IT specialist.
There are many failures in our government’s handling of classified documents. First, far too many people with security clearances allow them access to information they do not need to see. There are over three million people in America with high-level top security clearance. That is nearly one in every hundred people. The clearance process is far too loose to ensure a good level of National Security. Once someone gains a high-security clearance, they can access documents far beyond their purview. Teixeira had documents concerning our Military and foreign countries, both allies and adversaries that someone whose job was IT Tech never should have seen, let alone obtain hard copies.
We do not know the motives of Teixeira posting classified documents online. He had developed an online relationship with a group of young men, and it appears he was using the documents to impress the group and solidify his leadership. The government has a right to be enraged and aggressive in prosecuting Teixeira to the full extent of the law. Still, the Washington power center is embarrassed by the information released. The documents expose lies about what the Pentagon knew about the Chinese balloon threat. They knew about more balloons and more capabilities than they divulged. The information revealed that American troops were on the ground fighting alongside the Ukrainian military, fending off the Russian assault.
The explosion in the amount of information labeled classified or top secret and the number of people with clearance has occurred since 9-11. Before the attack, our intelligence agencies had little communication and cooperation. To correct this problem, information was centralized, but the classified/top secret stamp got overused. Because of the tags, more people were given clearance to perform their jobs. In typical government fashion, to correct a problem, they created another.
But the most alarming issue that has come about from the spotlight on classified documents is the number and magnitude of the lies and corruption in government. Whether it is unearthing the government conspiring with Social Media to spy on Americans or control the flow of information or the corruption and laundering of money sent to Ukraine. Billions of dollars were sent, and there has been resistance to any form of accountability. The government, especially the Executive Branch, has suffered from a credibility issue, and the leaked information worsens that issue.
You can choose which facet concerns you the most and who is the perpetrator or the victim. Still, Teixeira’s recent discovery and arrest have shown us there is much to do to resolve our handling of government information.