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High Security Clearance With Dementia?

  1. Nov 7, 2013 #1

    lisab

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    Just curious. What happens to people with high security clearance who develop dementia (or are mentally compromised somehow)?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2013 #2

    Evo

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    They should lose their clearance, unfortunately, many people hide their problems because they could lose their jobs.
     
  4. Nov 7, 2013 #3

    lisab

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    But what if the person is retired but still has lots of valuable secrets. Dementia sets in, and they loose judgement.

    Or they suffer a traumatic brain injury.

    Does anyone monitor this, I wonder?
     
  5. Nov 7, 2013 #4
    They have dementia, that causes them to forget things. Why should it matter if someone who is retired is forgetting secrets?
     
  6. Nov 7, 2013 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    They get promoted?
     
  7. Nov 7, 2013 #6

    Evo

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    The obvious problem, the one I believe lisab is alluding to, would be them forgetting that it's secret. My first husband had an above top secret clearance and was in Naval Intelligence, I am not aware that they do any follow up, I also had to be investigated in order for him to get his clearance. I don't know what they'd do in the case of them suddenly spewing secrets.
     
  8. Nov 8, 2013 #7
    I suppose there's a built-in safeguard: anything said by a person with dementia is perfectly ascribable to the dementia.
     
  9. Nov 8, 2013 #8

    dlgoff

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    From the experience of moms behavior during the onset of her dementia; the secret wouldn't be forgotten but the 50 or so phone calls to people telling of it would be.
     
  10. Nov 8, 2013 #9

    AlephZero

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    Apart from applying legal remedies after the event if there was a security breach, what could you do?

    In the UK, if you leave a job where you had access to secure information (either commercial or military) you would most likely have to sign a statement that states your ongoing security obligations. Beyond that, there is no technology (except death) to make you forget what you already know.
     
  11. Nov 8, 2013 #10

    lisab

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    Exactly my experience. They clearly remember what happened years ago, but can't remember why they just stood up. And they can display inappropriate behaviors.

    I'm sure it's similar everywhere - you're asked to sign something promising to protect the confidential information you have.

    But what happens if someone starts letting things slip? Are they put into some kind of protective custody?
     
  12. Nov 8, 2013 #11

    nsaspook

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    Just to be clear there is no "above top secret clearance", there are 'access' programs like SCI, PRP or SAP and a huge number of 'Compartment' code words or handling specifications.

    I would say from my experience having a SSBI/CI in the past if your ex-husband started spewing secrets uncontrollably he would be locked up in isolation or have a unfortunate accident. :wink:
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2013
  13. Nov 8, 2013 #12

    SteamKing

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    There's always the solution employed in the TV series, The Prisoner (1966).
     
  14. Nov 8, 2013 #13

    Evo

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    He'd had a "Top Secret" level clearance, and then his level was raised, I'm not saying it was actually called "above top secret" :tongue:. IIRC, it was 2 letters, at least I only recall him using 2 letters.
     
  15. Nov 8, 2013 #14

    Drakkith

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    I've got a clearance, but I've never heard anything about what happens in a case like this where the person can't be held responsible for their actions, so I don't know.
     
  16. Nov 8, 2013 #15
    Oh right forgetting it's a secret... Well in that case if someone forgets something is a secret due to a medical illness then they can't be held accountable for their actions. I highly doubt the government would seek imprisonment.
     
  17. Nov 8, 2013 #16

    lisab

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    I doubt they could prosecute someone who is mentally unsound. I'm not so sure about the imprisonment, though...but maybe they'd call it "protective custody" :rolleyes:.

    But I can't blame them. If someone knows things that must not be publicized, and that person can't be trusted for some reason - well, I think the authorities have to do what they have to do. I guess it's a case where you have to trust (your government), but can't verify.
     
  18. Nov 8, 2013 #17
    Yeah I agree, I think if this person were going around spilling state secrets that could harm national security then yes, they may well be taken in and placed in a psych ward or something. Although my nan suffered from dementia and I think forgetting something is a secret is probably irrelevant. They'd most likely forget the secret itself before forgetting that said secret was secret.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2013
  19. Nov 8, 2013 #18

    Chronos

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    Secrets are time sensitive, they rapidly decay in value with age. Spewing out classified material that is years old is unlikely to be useful. Standard practice includes regular changes to security procedures and strict compartmentalization of highly sensitive information. Very few know enough to be capable of releasing significantly damaging material. Besides, who would take the rants of a demented person seriously?
     
  20. Nov 9, 2013 #19

    Student100

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    In the US a secret security clearance is pretty easy to get. They do a basic background search, credit check, interview and it's good for ten years. When you leave the job that required the clearance they set it to inactive. A ts/sci clearance is much harder to get and hold onto. It's a very extensive background investigation, so extensive in fact they will fly NCIS agents out to bum **** nowhere to interview people you haven't seen in years. It's also easy lose, generally people lose them for DUIs, bar fights, credit problems ect. It's suppose to be good for five years, but they generally will keep tabs on you the whole time, looking for reasons to yank it.

    Medical and mental Heath issues are suppose to be reported, but if you didn't self report them and none of your coworkers reported you it'd probably slide till they did a reinvestigation.

    As far as when people leave their jobs and start blabbing secrets, it probably wouldn't matter unless they actually leaked documents/went to the press/appeared on TV. 95% of the reasons clearances are even granted though is due to the handling or involvement with cryptography. Which could do damage if keys were given up, but a dementia patient couldn't cause much damage spewing nonsense about how he handled crypto.
     
  21. Nov 9, 2013 #20

    Student100

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    sci? Yw, l, and q? are the only letters I can think of if in the us. :p They're TS clearances with special access.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
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