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"...what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it

By SGT William Geresy (ret)

Today President Trump revoked former CIA head Brennan's Top Secret clearance.  I think for good reason.  There is a HUGE part of the story that has not been told.

In the Air Force and MI Army National Guard, I have held both Secret and Top Secret clearances.  That did NOT mean that I had access to all the Secret and Top Secret information that was on base.  There is a second part, NEED TO KNOW.  You had to have BOTH to have access to any classified information.

Also not all Top Secrets are created equal.  There are more "flavors" of Top Secret than Baskin Robins has ever had flavors of ice cream.  I have held two "flavors".  These are denoted by suffixes, categories, and other denotations after the word Top Secret. 

That second part is just as important as the clearance.  The Need To Know could be administratively revoked at any time by my Commander.  

Here is a true story from Griffiss AFB, NY to illustrate the point.  We had a new Wing Commander.  It was a Saturday.  I was just coming on duty at noon.  We I opened the door to the lobby outside of my shop, there was the two airman on duty and the Wing Commander.  He had a much higher Top Secret than any of us.  The Wing Commander was walking around his new command to see what all was there.

He wanted to see the inside of my shop.  The problem was he was NOT on our access list.  None of us had escort privilege to escort him in.  The night crew offered to call someone in to escort him, but he wanted in now.  He wasn't happy that we couldn't do what he wanted.

He got pissed and left.  He went to the Wing Command Post which shared a wall with my shop.

The night crew left.  I was near the hatch that connected our two rooms reading the Daily Bulletin.  The hatch opened and out popped the Wing Commander's head.  He asked if I was present earlier when he wanted in.  I said I was.  He apologized for his conduct and asked me to pass that on to the others.  I could meekly reply, "Yes Sir!"  Then he pulled his head back into the Command Post and the hatch closed and I heard the latch being engaged. 

I guess when he got into the Command Post he called my Squadron Commander.  When my Commander could say more than "Yes Sirs and No Sirs", I am sure he explained that if we had let him in, as soon as he could hang up, he would be beating feet up to my shop the kick our rears.  

A week later the Wing Commander's name was added to our access list.  I never saw him in the shop after that.

The point is the need to know.  Even if he was in the shop, we still wouldn't show him our classified.  He had no need to know.  We had no need to know all the classified he had access to.

We compartmentalize our classified so extremely few know everything.  This is to protect our national secrets.  We each get to know just what we need to do our mission and not one scrap more.

Now you are more informed than anything I have seen in the press today.

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