||Protecting Classified Information
A security clearance is a privilege, not a
right. When you accept the privilege of access to classified information, you are also
accepting the responsibilities that accompany this privilege.
This guide informs you of your
responsibilities and provides information to help you fulfill them. Briefly, you are
- Comply with standards of conduct required of persons
holding positions of trust. This includes recognizing and avoiding behavior that might
cause you to become ineligible for continued access to classified information.
- Report to your security office changes in your
personal life that are of security interest, including planned marriage or cohabitation,
certain outside activities, foreign contacts, and other changes as described in Self-Reporting on Your Personal Activities.
- Report to your security office or a
counterintelligence office any information that comes to your attention regarding known or
suspected foreign intelligence activity
directed against yourself, a fellow co-worker, your organization, or any other national
- Report to your security office any information
that raises doubts about the reliability or trustworthiness of any co-worker or other
person with access to classified or other protected information. This responsibility is
discussed in Reporting Improper,
Unreliable or Suspicious Behavior.
Failure to comply with these responsibilities
may result in adverse administration action including termination of your security
clearance. Deliberate violation for profit may be prosecuted. The Nondisclosure Agreement
you signed when accepting your security clearance assigned to the U.S. Government the
legal right to any payments, royalties or other benefits you might receive as a result of
unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
When we study the history of foreign
intelligence activities against the United States, one thing becomes very clear. When our
adversaries or competitors are successful in obtaining classified or other sensitive
information, it is usually due to negligence, willful disregard for security, or betrayal
of trust by our own personnel.
The Bottom Line
Pogo, a popular cartoon character from the 1960s, coined an oft-quoted phrase: "We
have met the enemy, and he is us." That sums it up. We not our foreign
adversaries or competitors are the principal source of the problem, but we can also
become the solution. You and I and all others who hold a security clearance are the first
line of defense against espionage and loss of sensitive information. Together, if we
fulfill our responsibilities, we have the power to protect our national security and
Receiving your security clearance is a bit
like a school graduation or a religious ceremony such as marriage. It is a rite of passage
that marks a permanent change in your life. You accept new responsibilities and will be
expected to meet them. Your responsibility to protect the classified information that you
learn about is a LIFELONG obligation. It continues even after you no longer have an active
security clearance. Your signed Nondisclosure Agreement is the only form held on file long
after you retire (50 years!).