Payday Someday!

Classified document coversYesterday’s announcement by FBI Director James Comey concerning the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails set me to reminiscing about my experiences as an employee at the historic Oak Ridge (TN) Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex.

I entered employment there as a lowly Technical Publications Analyst I, the entry-level position for editors in the Publications Division of Martin Marietta Energy Systems, which, at the time, managed the plant for the U.S. Department of Energy. I was unable to gain access to the main plant, or get “inside the fence,” as it was called, without an escort until my security clearance came through. Even after my “L” clearance came, I had to be escorted from the parking lot into my office every morning, within the building throughout the day (including bathroom trips!), and out to the parking lot every evening. It was that way until my “Q” clearance came through.

I also had to undergo extensive training in the handling of classified documents and computer security, during which I had drilled into my brain the critical nature of the information that I would have access to as an editor. I would handle and work with some unclassified documents, but most of the documents that I would work on were classified “Confidential,” “Secret,” and “Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information.” All of it was of critical concern to the security of our nation.

Any time “ownership” of any such document was transferred to me or from me to another person, it had to be accompanied with forms filled out in triplicate. A written record was kept on file for every document that I touched. I was accountable for every document in my care every second it was in my possession and until I officially handed it off to someone else. And that transfer was documented every step of the way, creating a paper trail.

My training ingrained the absolute necessity of ensuring the security of every page of every document while it was entrusted to me. There was no way on earth that I could for a moment forget the consequences that would come to me if I ever lost or mishandled any part of any classified document. When I left the employ of Lockheed Martin (the company that resulted from the merger of Martin Marietta and Lockheed), I even had to sign a nondisclosure statement that assured me that I would experience fines and imprisonment if I ever violated that agreement.

Only once, and that early in my employment–while I still had only an “L” clearance and was being escorted everywhere I went–did I ever encounter a problem with those security rules. That once was more than enough to instill fear in me and ensure that from that point I would be more careful.

A summer intern who had a “Q” clearance was my escort, and her office was next door to mine. She completed an initial edit of a “Confidential” document just as her internship ended. My mentor, an elderly and vastly more experienced senior editor, transferred the document to me for a final proofing. As I did my job, I quickly discovered an apparent discrepancy in an in-text callout for a particular photomicrograph. After repeatedly checking through the document callouts and available photomicrographs in the work package and not finding the photo in question, I went to my mentor with the conundrum.

She worked with me for the better part of a day trying to discover the solution. We went through the document and the contents of the whole work package page by page. No solution. So she took it to my supervisor, who went ballistic. She spread the scores of pages and photos and diagrams all over her huge conference table, confusing my mentor and me more by the minute.

Finally, she threw up her hands, shoved all the pages into a big, jumbled pile in the center of the table, and said, “Well, you just take it back to your office and figure it out. And you’d better find it this time, or we’ll have to go to the Classification Office and tell them you lost it! This could mean your job, you know!”

With that threat ringing in my ears, I returned to my office. It was already late in the day, almost quitting time, and I had a terrible tension headache. I had been on the job only a few weeks, and I was about to get fired for the first time in my life. Worse than that, since it involved a classified photo that was part of a classified document, I possibly could face hefty fines or even jail time!

In the quiet of my office, my heart pounded and tears welled up in my eyes. I bowed my head and prayed. I had done everything I knew to do, but all those efforts had proven futile. Neither my mentor nor my supervisor had been able to solve it, so how could I? Yet, I resolved to go over the document one more time.

As I read through the document again, it suddenly hit me as plain as day! I realized that the text had referred to a photo in an outside source document, but the intern who edited the document misunderstood it to be a reference to a photo in the document itself, and she had numbered the callout as such. That had messed up the numbering of all subsequent photos. I double checked the rest of the document based on that possibility, and it was validated!

No words can describe my relief and elation at that moment.

I recalled that terrifying incident when I heard FBI Director Comey announce that he was recommending that no further action be taken in the case of Hillary Clinton. What she did with thousands upon thousands of her e-mails–on an unsecured private server and private e-mail account and involving at least 110 highly classified e-mails–was far worse than the problem I encountered, for which I might have paid a hefty, life-changing price. But she gets off scot-free.

General David Petraeus paid the price for his relatively minor indiscretions with classified information, as he probably should have–if the law is applied properly and no political payback was involved in the prosecution of his case. In the military, if one were guilty of such criminal conduct, he would lose his security clearance at a minimum and possibly be demoted–if he retained his job at all. He might also be court martialed and, if found guilty, be imprisoned. But Hillary gets off scot-free. After the announcement yesterday, the Justice Department and the President owe Petraeus a big apology and restitution.

I’m not a fan of Donald Trump, but he hit the nail on the head when he responded to the FBI announcement, saying, “The whole system’s rigged.” And the Clintons have spent decades rigging it this way. Bill lied under oath to a prosecutor, he lied to the American people, and he got reelected. Hillary lied to the FBI and a House subcommittee, and she gets her party’s nomination for president and possibly will be elected.

Yes, the Clintons have their players in place throughout the federal bureaucracy and judicial system to protect them from their many fumbles and foibles and outright crimes. They have judges in their pocket. Add to their own inside network that of Obama, and they are untouchable. Trump is right. The system is rigged. Too many people in decision-making positions owe the Clintons and have no more respect for the rule of law than the Clintons do.

What can one expect from those who think that they’re above the law? They are elitists. The law doesn’t apply to them. It applies to only their enemies and to the “little people.”

Ah, but they will pay. Someday. As one acquaintance of mine was fond of saying, “God doesn’t settle all of His accounts in October.” God, the Sovereign Judge of the Universe, will right all wrongs in His time. In His time. Those who seem untouchable now will have no recourse in that great day. I wouldn’t want to be in their place for anything in this world!

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