I was involved in a long career of classified work for the military and then did classified work for the government after I got out of the military. Doing classified work is often misunderstood by the public. If a person has a Top Secret clearance, that does not mean they have access to all classified information. In fact, it is not uncommon for two people to both have Top Secret (TS) clearances and still not be allowed to talk to each other. It has to do with what the government calls “compartments”. You are allowed your clearance only within certain compartments or subject areas. For instance, a guy that has a TS for Navy weapons systems may not know or allowed to know anything about Army weapon systems. If a compartment is very closely held meaning that it is separately controlled even within the TS cleared people, then it is given a special but often obscure names and additional controls. For instance, for years (back in the days of Corona but not any more) the compartment for satellite reconnaissance was called “talent-keyhole” and “byeman” and was usually restricted to only people within the NRO National Reconnaissance Office.
These code words were abbreviated with two letters so talent-keyhole became TK and byeman became BY. As a further safeguard, it is forbidden to tell anyone the code word for your compartment you are only allowed to tell him or her the two-letter abbreviation. And you cannot ask someone if they are cleared for any particular compartment, you have to check with a third party security force. So if you work in a place like CIA or NRL or NSA, and you want to have a meeting with someone from another department, you meet them at the security station outside your department office area (every department has one). When they arrive, you ask the guard if they are cleared for “TK” and “BY”. The guard then looks at the visitors badges and then checks them against a picture logbook he keeps. The picture and codes on the badges and the log book have to match and if they do, then gets out another book that has just the visitors numeric coded badge number and looks up his clearances. If he has TK and BY after his badge number, then you are told that he can be admitted to your area for discussions on just the TK and BY programs and subjects. In some departments, the visitors are given brightly colored badges identifying them as being cleared only for specific subject areas. This warns others in the department to cover their work or stop talking about other clearance areas when these visitors are nearby.
There are hundreds of these coded compartments covering all aspects of military and civilian classified topics and programs. If you are high enough or if your work involves a lot of cross-discipline work, you might have a long string of these code words after your name .as I did.
If a program has any involvement with intelligence gathering (HUMINT human intelligence, SIGINT signal intelligence or IMINT imagery intelligence), then it may get additional controls that go well beyond the usual TS background checks. For instance, you might be subjected to frequent polygraph tests or be placed in the PRP Personal Reliability Program. PRP was a program that constantly monitors peoples lives to see if they ever get even close to be vulnerable or easy targets for spies. In the PRP, your phone might be tapped, your checking accounts are monitored, you debt and income are watched, and your computer is hacked. This is all with the intent of making sure you never get into debt or get psychologically unstable. PRP administers a series of psychological tests that can take up to 3 days to complete every year. These tests can peer into your mind so well that they can feel reasonably confidant that you are mentally stable if these tests say so.
Because of my work, I had a TS clearance for more than 40 years and had a string of two-letter codes after my name that went on for three or four lines on a typewritten page. I was in the “Poly” program and in the PRP and some others that I still cant talk about. The reason I had so many was because I was involved in doing decision support using computer modeling Operations Research, Math Modeling and Simulations. This meant I had to have access to a huge range of information from a wide variety of intelligence sources as well as other kinds of R&D work. I then had to be able to analyze this information, model it and present it to the senior decision-makers in an easy to understand form. This meant I was often briefing congressmen, senators, people from the CIA, FBI and high ranking officers from all of the services, JCS and OSD as well as the working level analyst that were giving me their classified data for analysis.
Now I can begin telling you some of what I learned by being exposed to all of that intelligence over all those years but I still have to be careful because although most of my limitations have expired, some are still in effect and I cant violate them or I will join the ranks of the “disappeared”.
First, let me make it clear that the entire military is run by the top most 1% of the people in the services combined with the top 5% within the federal government. Imagine a pyramid in which only the guys at the top point are deciding where all the rest will go. Ill call them the “Power Elite”
There are just a handful of officers in the Pentagon and in JCS that make all of the decisions of what the services will do and what direction they will take. Perhaps 50 officers total. These guys are so high in rank and so close to retirement that they have, for intents and purposes, ceased being military people and are simply politicians that wear a uniform. They are essentially the liaison officers for the highest ranking congressmen and the office of the President. They cater to these politicians in order to gain additional power through the control of more money or to feather they nest of future involvement in the political arena.
There are of course a few a very few notable exceptions. Colon Powell and Dwight Eisenhower are two that come to mind. Officers like General Norman Schwarzkopf are not in this group because they chose not to seek political office or extend their power or control beyond doing their military jobs.
It is easy to see why all of the military is controlled by 1% of the officers. This is an organization based on the “chain-of-command” structure and everyone is taught to follow orders. In fact, once you are in the military, you can go to jail if you do not follow orders and in time of war, you can be executed for not following orders. Most of the bulk of the military is so biased by the indoctrination and propaganda created and put out by the government, that they willingly follow orders without questioning them.
What this 1% of high ranking military and 5% of the federal government have in common is that they measure their success in money and power. The source of that money and power comes from commercial, industrial and business sources. By making decisions that favor these businesses, those businesses, in turn, empower and enrich those involved. What is truly tragic is that this is not a recent occurrence but rather thee has been a Power Elite in our government for many decades going back to the mid 1800s.
The 5% of the federal government refers to the most powerful members of the Executive branch President, VP, Sec. of Defense, Sec. of State, etc. and the top most powerful congressmen and senators. The reason that the newer, younger and less powerful legislators do not fall into this group is because of the way the political parties are setup behind the scenes. The most senior congressmen and senators are put into positions of power and influence over the committees and programs that have the most influence on contracts, budget money and funding controls. When one congressman can control or seriously impact the budget for the entire military or any major commerce area, then he has control over all of the people in those areas. To see who these people are, list all of the congressmen and senators by length of service and take the top 5% and you will have 99% of the list. Not surprisingly, this top 55 also includes some of the most corrupt members of congress Murtha, Stevens, Rangel, Renzi, Mollohan, Don Young and others.
At the highest levels of security clearances, many people gain insights into how this Power Elite manipulate and twist he system to their gain. When Dick Cheney orchestrated the fake intelligence to support his war on Iraq, dont think for a minute that the CIA, NSA and Pentagon did not know exactly what he was doing but being good little soldiers that are, by law, not allowed to have a political opinion, they kept quiet. If they had not kept quiet, their personal careers would have been destroyed and their departments or agencies would have been punished by under-funded budgets for years to come.
The money and power comes from lobbyists and donations of funds and promises of votes so that the Power Elite can remain in power and extend their control and riches. A study by Transparency International found that of all the professions and jobs in the world, the one job that is most likely to make you a millionaire the soonest is being a congressman and senator in the US. In a job that pays less than $200K peer year, the net income and wealth of most congressmen and senators rises by 30-40% per year while they are active members of the legislature. Thats a fact!
So wheres the SciFi in all this? Its just this, these members of the Power Elite have so much control that they can operate a virtual parallel government that functions out of sight of the public and often in complete opposition to the actions of their publicly expressed policies. Of course, statements like this cannot be made without positive and verifiable evidence and I can provide facts you can check and a long history of this occurring going back decades. Read about these incidents in the rest of this series of stories Government Secrets #2, #3 and #4.