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9th Circuit Says Feds' Security Checks At JPL Go Too Far

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the and-you-thought-that-documents-were-sensitive dept.

Privacy 139

coondoggie writes with an excerpt from Network World which explains that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals "this week ruled against the federal government and in favor of employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in their case which centers around background investigations known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12 (Nelson et al. vs NASA). The finding reaffirms the JPL employees claims' that the checks threaten their constitutional rights. The stink stems from HSPD #12 which is in part aimed at gathering information to develop a common identification standard that ensures that people are who they say they are, so government facilities and sensitive information stored in networks remains protected." At issue in particular: an employee's not agreeing to "an open ended background investigation, conducted by unknown investigators, in order to receive an identification badge that was compliant with HSPD#12" was grounds for dismissal.

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Do you suffer from Anal Poo? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236857)

Stand up and be counted. Thousands of Americans daily suffer from Anal Poo, a treatable condition caused by Italians. They suffer in silence because of the stigma attached to being the innocent victims of nefarious Italian influences. Anal Poo is treatable. There is hope. Stand up, stand together and be counted. Ask your doctor about Flixomax SE (tm). Say "good-bye" to Anal Poo and Italians.

They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0, Flamebait)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236867)

This was settled a long time ago. It's government business on government property. You have the right to go work somewhere else.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (4, Insightful)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236899)

Sorry, but no. Federal employees do have rights, as the court has ruled. If the matter were settled, it wouldn't have ruled that way, would it?

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236981)

I'm not clear from the link, but it appears that the situation may only apply to to existing employees.

You are happily working at your established job and some presidential directive comes down that establishes that you need a background check to get your smart card needed to access the network and do your job.

Current employees are now offered the "choice" of submitting to a background check or lose their jobs. The court ruled rightly that this is a no go, but I suspect new employees have to agree to a background check before accepting employment.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (5, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237035)

The real crap was that JPL was going to "resign" employees who did not submit to or pass the new background checks, attempting to circumvent California law with regard to unemployment etc. There was never any question that would be struck down.

Can someone please tell me what things like that damn suitability matrix have to do with suitability to work? Such as sexual orientation, traffic tickets, bad checks, eviction, incest, and bestiality have to do with ability to Science?

http://hspd12jpl.org/files/Suitability_Matrix.pdf [hspd12jpl.org]

What will likely happen is JPL will be forced to follow the law ith regards to termination, and NASA will enact reasonable guidelines to keep our nation safe (most of the research at JPL isn't even that secret. It's not like we built WMDs or bioweapons. We build science satellites and probes.) that do not go above and beyond the President's directive.

Disclaimer: I was an intern at JPL when this shit started to hit the fan two summers ago.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (2, Informative)

Descalzo (898339) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237107)

Can someone please tell me what things like that damn suitability matrix have to do with suitability to work? Such as sexual orientation, traffic tickets, bad checks, eviction, incest, and bestiality have to do with ability to Science?

Just in case someone missed calmofthestorm's sarcasm, the suitability matrix he refers to (and the whole idea of background checks) has nothing to do with Science, and everything to do with trustworthiness.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1)

P0ltergeist333 (1473899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239585)

I might accept traffic tickets and bad checks as potential indicators of trustworthiness... but carnal knowledge is listed as a class C offense (with D being the worst), along with sodomy. Carnal knowledge commonly refers to sexual acts in general (knowledge of the flesh). Sodomy commonly refers to anal and oral sex (legal in most states, should be legal in all states (providing there is mutual consent, of course)), and much less commonly bestiality. While I think that it is absolutely ludicrous to think that either of those things indicate trustworthiness (Many people have carnal knowledge of their spouse on a regular basis, likely including our President, the majority of our armed forces and intelligence agencies, as well as Senate members of intelligence subcommittees... a significant amount of those same people also likely engage in sodomy as well). This is really humorous in light of J Edgar Hoover and his rumored sexual proclivities... especially since this is the sort of thing I could see him creating.

There are several other questionable things on the matrix, which should likely be reviewed and changed just in the name of efficacy. Many of the other things I see on that chart seem quite reasonable in assessing the risk of a security breach, if nothing else from a standpoint that it is better to err on the side of caution.

In regards to JPL and HSPD #12, I think the major national security issue is related to the fact that while a disturbing amount of countries have the ability to construct a nuclear device, one of the big tricks is getting that device to detonate far enough away from said country to do more damage to the target then to said country. The other big trick is sending said weapon to another continent. ICBM's require advanced propulsion as well as satellite technology. Whether or not such measures at JPL are effective, considering how many loopholes corporations use to export sensitive technology to boycotted nations is another argument entirely...and then there's the amount of publicly available information as well. Again, from the standpoint that it is better to err on the side of caution, it seems reasonable to require security checks on JPL employees.

Where this is potentially dangerous in my opinion is if these types of security checks are considered unconstitutional for JPL employees, they will be considered as such for other government contractors...which could conceivably pose even more significant risk.

Ultimately, I hope we use this situation as an opportunity to modernize and revamp the security clearance process without causing undue security risks. I believe a review of the efficacy of the varied suitability matrix in determining security risk would have been sufficient, but if it has to happen under the auspices of Constitutionality, so be it, as long as it is done in a timely fashion and does not break the process of Government security clearance screening.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (3, Insightful)

Migity (1199059) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240371)

Umm...couldn't the President (Obama) just overturn this directive? After all, It's not called the "Homeland Security Presidential Directive" for nothing.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237181)

What will likely happen is JPL will be forced to follow the law ith regards to termination

Wow, a federally funded organization being FORCED TO FOLLOW THE LAW! Sure sounds like socialism to me! (I'm being sarcastic, for the folks to brain-dead to know it.)

I was once offered employment at JPL--it was my dream job, working in the Advanced Propulsion Group to design and build the next generation of unlaunchable engines (unlaunchable because NASA is on such a shoe-string budget for that they don't dare deviate from conventional tech for a wide range of things, particularly propulsion tech.)

There were strings attached: I'm not an American and would have had to become one, which I wasn't willing to do for a whole bunch of reasons. It was hands-down the single best choice I have ever made in my life. I had doubts and second thoughts for about five years after, but in the past decade or so have really come to realize what I nightmare I avoided. Stories like this about JPL's management and culture really help reinforce that belief.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237327)

There were strings attached: I'm not an American and would have had to become one, which I wasn't willing to do for a whole bunch of reasons

Being an American isn't a bad thing. Having to become a US citizen on the other hand ...

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28239757)

Stories like this about JPL's management and culture really help reinforce that belief.

And it's not as if it stops with governmental bodies. It may even be worse in the business environment. Businesses routinely respond to objections based on constitutional rights by saying the constitution is binding only on the government. Otherwise they can provide contracts where you "voluntarily" sign away your basic rights. Granted NASA is a gov't agency, so they can hide behind all the DHS bullshit they can cobble together.

As a non-government outfit, the Red Cross has the same attitude about "background checks". All their employees, I assume, have to consent to -- a criminal background check, a credit check and for the love of Christ A LIFESTYLE CHECK. No details are given on the scope of the "lifestyle check", so it's anything the RC decides would be fun or "interesting".

I have an amateur radio (ham) license. As a group, amateurs are strongly encouraged to get involved in providing public service to various events and organizations (marathons, cancer "walkathons", bike runs, etc. They are also expected to receive and drill in emergency communications for natural disasters, widespread power/phone outages and the like, all on a volunteer, completely unpaid basis.

One of the organizations which is the recipient of a great deal of this volunteer help is the Red Cross.

So, in the past year or two, some single-digit high-roller at RC HQ decided to impose the same background check requirements on all VOLUNTEERS. Stupid shits!

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) widely dispersed this information to the amateur community, as information only, with no recommendation pro or con. They just wanted to make sure that all potential volunteers understood exactly what they might be signing on for.

There was a lot of furor (and fury) about this imperious decision on the part of the RC. Eventually they backed down, at least on the lifestyle check, but only, as I understand for "short time" volunteers, like when the duration of service is expected to be only perhaps a week or two.

The ARRL engaged in negotiations with the RC to back down before signing a Memo of Understanding about conditions of service. I don't know at this time if the MOU ever did get signed.

Personally I wouldn't get involved with the RC in any case, for any reason. I've despised them for years. As far back as the Korean war, I was told by someone who was over there on the front lines that when the RC was on site distributing donuts and coffee, it was available only if the GI had money to pay for it. I dunno -- that's what I heard.

Then some years back they got involved in some financial jiggery-pokery. It was said that it only involved people at the top. Tough shit -- some kind of board of directors obviously had to be not taking care of business.

Screw them all -- I only give to individuals or to small charitable organizations I know well.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237743)

Can someone please tell me what things like that damn suitability matrix have to do with suitability to work? Such as sexual orientation, traffic tickets, bad checks, eviction, incest, and bestiality have to do with ability to Science?

Well, when the Science is super-ultra-secret, all of those things indicate possible ways that a foreign power could exert influence over a scientist to cause them to fork over the super-ultra-secret scientific information (i.e., through blackmail or bribery).

It's fairly likely that new incoming employees still have to submit to the background checks. At this point, many many federal employees do, and the level of probulation depends on the level of access to information given (e.g., confidential, secret, or top secret).

(On a side note, it's interesting that they treat marijuana with kid gloves compared to other drugs.)

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (4, Informative)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237955)

Most of what JPL does is completely completely non-sensitive. Keep in mind this crap only applies to employees /not/ working on sensitive material, there is a different system in place for those on sensitive stuff.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238311)

how are they supposed to keep the alien-built structures on Mars secret then?

someone's got to be sitting at the photoshopping workstation... that person needs to be above-top-secret cleared!

Re: Disclosed today, on YouTube tomorrow (1)

gustep12 (1161613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240073)

It's really simple:

1.) You have to disclose all your potentially embarrassing misdeeds of the past.
2.) The government stores this information on a poorly guarded unecrypted hard drive.
3.) The government then "accidentally" loses this unencrypted hard drive.
4.) What you thought was a confidential disclosure is now in the public domain.

Result: Blackmail opportunity eliminated (possibly job change opportunity too). Profit!!


The UK utilizes this method quite often, most recently with its air force pilots, see here: Data Breach Exposes RAF Staff To Blackmail [slashdot.org]

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (4, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238089)

I read that PDF - when was it written, 1955? Carnal knowledge? Sodomy? What?

I work on Naval vessels, and that requires a NATO security clearance. That's because - surprise - they don't want just anybody looking at the weapons systems. Some of that stuff is of vital importance to the military. THey want to keep it there and not give the bad guys leverage on me. The idea is that if I participate in one of those activities and Someone From Asia finds out, they might pop over to my house for a visit.

"Hey, Beardo. It sure would be a shame if your boss found out about your DUI... or that carnal knowledge. Can you copy document 1992FITH-559G for me? It's not even Classified. Anyway, see you tomorrow."

It seems antiquated at best, but there's SOME logic to what they're going for. I'm not saying it's current, but it's the Federal Government. They move S.L.O.

(The W. is in processing and will be sent after approval from the joint committee on W approval.)

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238287)

Say Australia, Israel, UK or some other country close to the USA learns that something new and big is been contracted for. Asking for a front row seat, you are told it does not exist.
What now?
You need this kit. So you target the middle, someone with access. Find their house and tap the broadband. Waiting to see what "Bob' or "Sally' does to relax.
If its incest, and bestiality you might meet them on a forum chat room or in bump into them in real life over 6 months, building up a friendship with cute oneliners.
Their first real friend who understands them 100%. Who just listens and 12 months later files flow out.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238323)

Or they'd go to nasa.gov and download those same files without all this effort.

That's the issue you see, and one that a lot of people seem to be missing. the employees being subjected to this crap are specifically the ones who are NOT working on ANYTHING sensitive. The 5% of JPL employees who are involved in 'sensitive' work go through a different process.

The other members of my group were going to have to go through this. They did non-classified work on computer algorithms. You could download all their data, results, etc from the jpl/nasa website or read it in scientific journals.

I seem to recall at the time their propaganda told us that 95% of employees were in "non-sensitive" positions.

It's hard to take them seriously about all this security bs when everything you do is being put online anyway.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238951)

The suitability matrix was developed by OPM many moons ago, to provide guidance to agencies on how to deal with the results of the investigations, as it is the agency and not OPM that determines if the results of an investigation are sufficient to warrant denial of employment, clearance, or now with HSPD-12, credentialing.

http://www.opm.gov/extra/investigate/ [opm.gov]

There used to be a link to the document, but it was empty, as it was under revision. Has been for at least 3 years.

The latest criteria are in a 31 July 2008 OPM memo:
"HSPD-12 Credentialing Standards:
The purpose of this section is to provide minimum standards for initial eligibility for a PIV card.
If an individual who otherwise meets these standards is found: 1) unsuitable for the competitive civil service under 5 CFR part 731,2) ineligible for access to classified information under E.O. 12968, or 3) disqualified from appointment in the excepted service or from working on a contract, the unfavorable decision is a sufficient basis for non-issuance or revocation of a PIV card."

einstein couldnt get clearance either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238971)

thats the way most jobs are dude, they dont care if you are good, just that you 'fit'

Not part of the presidential directive (4, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237543)

You are happily working at your established job and some presidential directive comes down that establishes that you need a background check to get your smart card needed to access the network and do your job. Current employees are now offered the "choice" of submitting to a background check or lose their jobs.

As I pointed out when this was posted on the NASAwatch website, the actual presidential directive, HSPD-12, is a directive that says government identification cards (including NASA IDs) should have pictures and be difficult to forge. Nothing more. The presidential directive does not say anything about requiring an invasive background check including checking medical, financial, and other personal background information along with a blank authorization to check any records at all. Nothing.

The whole thing about background checks was a stealth policy change that was slid into the new ID regulations by the OPM. It has nothing to do with HSPD-12, and most particularly it was not authorized by presidential directive.

Re:Not part of the presidential directive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238777)

But there is more:

(3) "Secure and reliable forms of identification" for purposes of this directive means identification that (a) is issued based on sound criteria for verifying an individual employee's identity; (b) is strongly resistant to identity fraud, tampering, counterfeiting, and terrorist exploitation; (c) can be rapidly authenticated electronically; and (d) is issued only by providers whose reliability has been established by an official accreditation process."

OPM had little to do with the requirement. Simply walk the logic tree of the directive. In order to both verify the applicant's identity and resist fraud and exploitation, a background investigation is a virtual necessity. And since contractors would be given effectively the same access as federal employees, it follows that contractors will need to undergo the same background checks as applicants for federal employment have had to undergo since 1953:

http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/10450.html [archives.gov]

And nothing was done by "Stealth" There was a long and painful review and public comment period during NIST's development of the implementation standard:

http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/SNS/piv/comments.htm [nist.gov]

Re:Not part of the presidential directive (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239875)

You've misunderstood, it means the IDENTIFICATION CARD must be resistant to fraud, tampering, exploitation, etc. The government issued a federal standard for HSPD-12 compliant ID cards called FIPS 201. There are a lot of requirements but they are all specific to the card...for example, it must have a smart card chip that meets security standards for a cryptoprocessor (FIPS 140), it must use an identity applet on the card with various requirements on PIN policy, certificates, etc. The physical card has to meet anti-tamper requirements and have security features like an agency seal printed with optical variable ink (holographic ink).

And on it goes. But the criteria for issuing an ID card to an individual? That's got absolutely nothing to do with HSPD-12.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1, Flamebait)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237949)

Sorry, but no. Federal employees do have rights, as the court has ruled. If the matter were settled, it wouldn't have ruled that way, would it?

I see you're unfamiliar with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Those loons are usually in a completely separate orbit from reason.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238527)

I see you're unfamiliar with afabbro. That loon usually conflates his opinion with fact.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236987)

You forget who the government is supposed to be working for.

There are Constitutional rights here (4, Insightful)

gavron (1300111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236995)

I'm sorry that's how it is in your country, but in the US the Federal Government has to abide by the Constitution and all right not specifically given to the Federal Government (by same) are reserved elsewhere. (See the 9th and 10th Amendments.)

That means that it's not really about the people being harassed and forced to undergo invasive searches (See 4th Amendment) finding another job. No. It's about their job being just fine, and the Federal government having to be reasonable with its searches and seizures. (Again, 4th Am.)

That's how it is in our country. If you don't like it, watch the door doesn't hit you in the ass on your way out, and remember to wipe your feet on the "good riddance to those who don't respect civil liberties" doormat.

E

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237291)

I'm sorry that's how it is in your country, but in the US the Federal Government has to abide by the Constitution and all right not specifically given to the Federal Government (by same) are reserved elsewhere. (See the 9th and 10th Amendments.)

Unless, of course, we're talking about the 2nd Amendment. That one doesn't count and needs to be whittled down, restricted, and otherwise weakened.

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (1)

NovaHorizon (1300173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237517)

Have you heard of the patriot act?

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (1)

gavron (1300111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237559)

> Have you hear fo the patriot act?
No.

Perhaps you mean the U.S.A. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act. (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-107publ56/content-detail.html)

That has nothing to do with this discussion.
Thanks for the illiterate trivia question.
E

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237619)

I suggest you pay some attention to those rights you so freely tout. They don't mean what you think they do- specifically the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (3, Informative)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239359)

From USConstitution.net [usconstitution.net] :

Amendment 9 - Construction of Constitution.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10 - Powers of the States and People.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Or to translate:

Amendment 9: You still retain all your rights, even if we didn't mention them here.
Amendment 10: If we didn't talk about it here, the Feds can't do it.

Re:There are Constitutional rights here (2, Interesting)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239497)

On good days, yes. On bad days, we have a history of 100 years of legal slavery, Herbert Hoover's use of the FBI for political abuse, the imprisonment of Japanese-Americans during World War II for the simple act of having Japanese ancestors, the McCarthy era witch-hunt for communists, illegal tapping of the fiber-optic backbone of AT&T by the National Security Agency with the granting of retroactive immunity from prosecution for the criminals involved, and Guantanamo Bay. The Constition provides useful guidelines, but there are far too many cases where it has been ignored wholesale by individuals or entire departments of the federal government. Much of it has been discarded over the last decade in the name of the "war on terrorism", just as it was ignored by previous presidents for the "war on drugs" and other oddness. Vote, campaign, commit civil disobedience if necessary: we're fortunate that our system allows dissent, but should not be complacent.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (-1, Offtopic)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237021)

Fix your fucking code! If you guys have time to post news, you've got time to fix code.

I don't know what you guys are doing, but you've made it worse.

Your code is now causing Firefox to lockup, requiring a reboot of the browser. This is on top of the UI graphics being scattered all over hell and back.

Hear hear (0, Offtopic)

bob.appleyard (1030756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239023)

Offtopic? When this [photobucket.com] is what passes for a thread view, this comment is on topic for every conversation!

FFRDC (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238063)

You should know that JPL employees are actually employees of Cal Tech. JPL is what is known as a Federally Funded Research and Development Center [wikipedia.org] . And many of the employees there are not drones who like to roll over for government abuse, even if their paychecks ultimately come from that direction.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (2, Funny)

dave420 (699308) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238173)

Yeah! If only they had this policy back in the 70s - Carl Sagan wouldn't have been allowed to work there. Fuckin' good-for-nothin' dope-smoking hippie.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (1)

bware (148533) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238923)

JPL employees are not Federal employees. They work for a private university, Caltech.

Re:They're smoking that wacky weed again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240345)

It's called "Tard Grass" and there's nothing wrong with it, JACKASS!

Expect retaliation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236869)

Whistle-blowers get protection from retaliation, but you know anyone who complained about this policy probably doesn't have friends in high places. Anyone who complains can expect their career to stagnate or progress slower than it would have if they had said nothing.

Such is the way with large employers.

Re:Expect retaliation (5, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236901)

We owe a great deal to those who brought this case.

HSPD #12 (4, Funny)

HiggsBison (678319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236875)

Homeland Security Presidential Directive #12:
You do not talk about Homeland Security Presidential Directives.

...or something like that.

Re:HSPD #12 (3, Funny)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237187)

Heh. I had this thought earlier today: "The first rule of Pot Club is, ... you do not remember the first rule." At least, I think that was me...

What about private companies? (3, Interesting)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236881)

I understand many components of rocket engines are manufactures by private companies. Are they subject to these security standards?

Re:What about private companies? (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236905)

Generally, contractors are subject to the same security standards. This is true for highly sensitive orgs like NASA as well as less sensitive orgs like departments of public welfare.

Re:What about private companies? (1)

millennial (830897) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238133)

Agreed. I work for a nuclear propulsion research lab operated for the government by Bechtel, and we had to go through the big, long, complicated security clearance process, 'secret' background check included.

Re:What about private companies? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240425)

I think this is all government departments and agencies -- even the lowly USDA has a HSPD #12 requirement to issue badges, do those interviews, etc. Oh and yes, I believe contractors are required to go through it -- especially if computer access is required.

Of interest (3, Insightful)

ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236903)

From TFA, these in-depth background investigations were being conducted for personnel in non-sensitive jobs. I'd understand the checks for jobs which require clearance, but in this case they are wasting resources background checking everyone who works there, for the sake of uniformity. It's a bit over the top.

Re:Of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237105)

uniformity or getting rid of the gays and democrats?

Re:Of interest (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237223)

There was no rule against being a democrat.

Re:Of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237403)

There was no rule against being a democrat.

Unless you're a DOJ Lawyer.

Re:Of interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240057)

Background checks are nothing new, but it used to be the employee would do the actual leg work, and produce documents showing the result and usually only to HR. A CPIC background check for example, or driving abstract. There was no need to authorize anyone to access your private information, let alone extend such authorization indefinitely which is the case now.

Even applying to international companies with the US Government as a customer, are being forced to have these stupid searches done. RIM for example uses american-background.com and you are forced to either allow them full access to everything, or you do not get the position.

With American Background, they are very careful in how they pursue (or persuade) information they know is not legally required, or legal for them to even ask. Social Insurance number, drivers license number / photo copy and even what you filed on your income tax (they request a fax of the assessment) for example -- This was NOT even for security clearance but basic background check. If you question anything however, their first response is a threat to tell your employer that you're refusing. Even if what they're asking is illegal.

You further have no legal right apparently to request your information be purged. All documents are faxed to their office in Virginia, and are kept forever regardless of if you are accepted to the position or not.

Someday I'll post recordings I have of the calls with them because they really are amusing.

Workers were not seeking security clerance even.. (3, Informative)

ctmurray (1475885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236919)

The plaintiffs are scientists, engineers and administrative workers at JPL, which is operated jointly by the California Institute of Technology and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Like the vast majority of JPL employees, they do not have or need security clearances, and have been identified by the government as holding âoenon-sensitiveâ positions.

I had to read further and deeper through the links to find this comment. So these people not needing security clearance were subjected to the expansive and open ended review permitted by the HSPD #12.

Re:Workers were not seeking security clerance even (4, Interesting)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237043)

At one of hte protests I went to, one guy stood up to speak and basically said he was glad he had a top secret clearance because it meant he didn't have to have his privacy invaded like this. That's saying something.

Disclaimer: I was an intern at JPL two summers ago when this was starting to be a problem.

Re:Workers were not seeking security clerance even (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238145)

Maybe he was an old timer who was grandfathered in before the government got serious about screening people in sensitive positions but rest assured the procedures for vetting someone for secret or top secret clearance are pretty invasive and this was the case before HomeSec existed.

Re:Workers were not seeking security clerance even (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238793)

When I got my clearance back in the dark ages (1985 or so) they were extremely interested in the organizations I belonged to. They weren't happy when all I had to tell them about was the Auto Club and, decades previous, the Book of the Month Club. It was only after I confessed to being a Campfire Girl that they removed the thumbscrews and granted my clearance. At one point the current JPL Overseer (not Bruce Murray) let it be known that those who required clearances for their jobs would be seriously limiting their careers if they refused to apply.

Re:Workers were not seeking security clearance (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239309)

At one of the protests I went to, one guy stood up to speak and basically said he was glad he had a top secret clearance because it meant he didn't have to have his privacy invaded like this. That's saying something.

It seems strange, but as you get to the higher level clearances, like TS and SCI, as done for the 3-letter agencies, the process becomes quite intrusive, but is reasonably rational and run by competent people. Also, at the higher levels, the security clearance process is entirely independent of the employer. At the higher security levels, where there are real field background checks, employee background information is closely held - it could be used by enemies to find vulnerable employees.

The problem with JPL is that they were doing a by-the-numbers process on a huge number of people using arbitrary criteria, but with the level of intrusiveness of a real clearance investigation. And they were running the process out of their own human resources department.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236937)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

you would not know why you failed (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28236959)

There was a briefing where I work about the plan. If you failed the background check, you had no way of learning the reasons. Though you could technically appeal, what would have been the good of that had you not known why. What if it had been simply that you donated money to a certain person, or that your spouse was from a certain country, or a mistaken identity? The other problem was that it took so long to do the checks. Since the program had not started they had no idea, but it was thought that the new process would likely add 6 months to the already tedious process in place. To give you an idea I have had two background checks here. Once it took 4 months the other time 2 since I had already passed an earlier one. Soon we learned about the likely challenge from NASA employees and we waited it out. It has taken years to get this far and thankfully it looks like this overstepping is going to end. The other thing is that the dept I work for and the job I do has me doing absolutely nothing secret or anything of the sort that might need this level of background check. Every employee was going to need it.

The final point I want to add is that during the briefing it became clear that not only was this a terrible new big brother style of infringement but that there were companies that were going to make a fortune doing this. As an example we were going to have to get a new set of IDs and all the doors and computers would have readers in order to use them.

Re:you would not know why you failed (3, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237177)

If you failed the background check, you had no way of learning the reasons. Though you could technically appeal, what would have been the good of that had you not known why.

Kafkaesque. [wikipedia.org]

Don't breakout the champagne yet (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236997)

As I recall, the 9th Circuit has more of its decisions overturned than any other court.

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (1, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237027)

It's a large circuit that handles a lot of cases so this is true of the absolute number of cases but not percentage-wise.

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (3, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237055)

"From 1992 to 2003, the lowest percentage of overturned appeals was 68 percent. The highest was a telling 95 percent. The average percentage of Ninth Circuit Court decisions overturned by the Supreme Court during this time was 73.5 percent as compared to an average of 61 percent by the all the other circuit courts of appeal combined."

http://crapo.senate.gov/issues/crime_law_judiciary/ninth_circuit.cfm [senate.gov]

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (2, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237375)

That sure is carefully worded. The absolute difference between the averages is only 13%, and is only 20% of the smaller number. It also quietly ignores all the decisions that are not considered for appeals (meaning when a case from the 9th is appealed, it is somewhat more likely to be overturned than other courts, but saying nothing about what percentage of all the cases heard in the 9th are overturned upon appeal).

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (3, Interesting)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237735)

Funny, I don't see any cited numbers there. Meanwhile, here are some real numbers from the Harvard Law Review (see the couple pages, which contain total number of cases seen by the Supreme Court from each of the circuits, along with number of cases reversed, vacated, etc) (alas, the document itself doesn't cite its sources, but I'll fall back on argument by authority and assume they've done their homework properly):

http://www.harvardlawreview.org/issues/118/Nov04/Nine_Justices_Ten_YearsFTX.pdf [harvardlawreview.org]

Now, I took those numbers and I made a couple CSV files, then did a little crunching (yes, I'm bored... what can I say, I'm waiting for the oven to preheat :). So, let's compare the percentages of reversed cases for each of the courts. A little Perl magic, and we get this:

1st - 0.00, 25.00, 100.00, 40.00, 0.00, 0.00, 100.00, 0.00, 0.00, 0.00
2nd - 66.67, 50.00, 100.00, 33.33, 50.00, 100.00, 37.50, 100.00, 100.00, 100.00
3rd - 60.00, 0.00, 33.33, 25.00, 50.00, 0.00, 60.00, 0.00, 0.00, 50.00
4th - 66.67, 50.00, 33.33, 50.00, 0.00, 55.56, 40.00, 54.55, 100.00, 0.00
5th - 62.50, 100.00, 60.00, 33.33, 60.00, 66.67, 33.33, 100.00, 100.00, 83.33
6th - 42.86, 50.00, 33.33, 33.33, 50.00, 75.00, 71.43, 0.00, 71.43, 75.00
7th - 28.57, 42.86, 100.00, 14.29, 50.00, 75.00, 50.00, 0.00, 66.67, 50.00
8th - 80.00, 50.00, 37.50, 46.15, 33.33, 20.00, 33.33, 60.00, 0.00, 75.00
9th - 70.59, 76.92, 71.43, 76.47, 55.56, 80.00, 64.71, 61.11, 56.52, 64.00
10th - 50.00, 20.00, 0.00, 0.00, 25.00, 50.00, 75.00, 75.00, 100.00, 100.00
11th - 33.33, 40.00, 33.33, 100.00, 75.00, 40.00, 100.00, 100.00, 50.00, 50.00
DC - 66.67, 40.00, 0.00, 22.22, 0.00, 0.00, 100.00, 66.67, 0.00, 33.33
Fed - 66.67, 0.00, 100.00, 50.00, 50.00, 100.00, 50.00, 20.00, 50.00, 100.00

Notice, there are plenty of years where the 9th's reversal rate is lower than other circuits, and the numbers certainly aren't wildly out of whack (I really don't see where the "95%" number comes from). But, why don't we look at the total percentage of reversals for each of the courts?

1st - 33.33
2nd - 69.23
3rd - 41.94
4th - 46.30
5th - 59.65
6th - 49.12
7th - 46.94
8th - 47.06
9th - 66.67
10th - 48.39
11th - 59.09
DC - 30.30
Fed - 46.15

As you can see, the 9th circuit, while up there, is beaten by the 2nd circuit, and it's really not that far off from the others.

Of course, it's possible there's something I don't understand in the data. Maybe I have to combine reversals with some of the other numbers... but certainly, at first glance, the 9th circuit doesn't look nearly as bad as its critics would have us believe.

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237973)

And where is the latest SCOTUS nominee from? The 2nd Circuit. Gee, great.

The 2nd and the 9th are the wackiest circuits. Not surprisingly, they represent California and New York, respectively.

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238209)

And the entire point of my post is that they aren't as "wacky" as you'd like to believe. Hell, look at the 5th circuit. If it weren't for a couple low years, its turnover rate is surprisingly high. Same goes with the 6th and 10th circuits in the later years of the data.

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239827)

Additionally, one thing that people tend to forget: There is not requirement for the higher courts to actually hear the cases. They will generally only hear the cases that they feel will result in overturning. As such it's hardly surprising that the numbers are "high".

Re:Don't breakout the champagne yet (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237077)

That's because it hears more cases than any other circuit, having the largest population (the entire west coast). It has almost 20% of the caseload of the US. By percentage of cases overturned it ranks slightly better than average.

For background to comment intelligently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237061)

I work at NASA, and am actually tangentially involved in this.

Needless to say, I should not comment any more than if you want to have a good background to discuss this, look at NIST Special Publication 800-63 and FIPS 201 then decide if NASA did what they say. If so, bitch at NIST, not NASA.

Linked article isn't accurate (5, Informative)

losttoy (558557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237097)

The report in the linked article from networkworld is not accurate. Quote from the article "The stink stems from HSPD #12 which is in part aimed at gathering information to develop a common identification standard that ensures that people are who they say they are, so government facilities and sensitive information stored in networks remains protected."

A close friend is one of the Caltech (technically, he is a contractor at JPL) employees who sued the Federal government. Caltech manages the JPL labs for the federal government. After 9/11, the Bush administration passed this directive to subject federal employees and contractors, working on sensitive and non-sensitive matters to the same invasive background checks. These background checks do not have a set standard or criteria for evaluation, are not disclosed and can affect your employment (read termination). This means that if someone who knows you, when interviewed, says he/she thinks you did pot, that's it, you can be terminated.

To subject federal employees and contractors who are working on confidential/sensitive projects is one thing although still not fair but it is completely unfair to subject employees or contractors working on non-sensitive projects to such arbitrary background checks.

As they say, devil lies in the details. The presidential directive itself does not require background checks. What is requires is that all employees and contracts, irrespective of the nature of work, have to be issued a standard identification card for entering federal facilities. Sounds fair, right? The rub is that to be issued this card, you must pass the background check. So by mandating a standard identification card, the government has mandated all employees and contractors be subjected to background checks. And this is what this group of 30 or so JPL/Caltech scientists are protesting.

On top of all this, these background checks are labour intensive because they require federal agents to interview people who know you and collect personal information about you. Another friend who worked for PG&E waited 3 months to enter the facility he was supposed to work at because the feds could not finish his background check soon enough. Imagine if thousands of other employees or contractors are subjected to this new directive? The quality of these checks is directly proportional to the number of federal agents who do this work and we all know that the number of experienced federal agents is not going to quadruple overnight. So the end result is going to be dilution in the quality of these checks which then defeats the intent and purpose of these checks.

Phew!! My longest post on /. but no wonder that the government always screws up!!

Re:Linked article isn't accurate (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237271)

This means that if someone who knows you, when interviewed, says he/she thinks you did pot, that's it, you can be terminated.

So, based on these rules, the last 3 presidents can be terminated?

Re:Linked article isn't accurate (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237321)

On top of all this, these background checks are labour intensive because they require federal agents to interview people who know you and collect personal information about you.

Indeed, we are already seeing the results of over-investigation.

87 percent of the 3,500 initial top-secret security clearance cases Defense approved last year were missing at least one interview or important record.
Security clearances: Faked investigations mount as deadlines tighten [federaltimes.com]

Re:Linked article isn't accurate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238279)

Who does security investigations varies. DoD security investigations are done by commercial company that has 'agents' (contractors) that have the authority to conduct security investigations and nothing else. I don't remember when the company was formed, at one time the security investigations were done by the government, but at some point over the last 20 years it was converted into a commercial entity.
OPM (office of personnel management) has some responsibilities, and the FBI does them for Presidential appointees.
NASA? Who knows? They could contract it out to Blackwater or some other group for all I know.

Re:Linked article isn't accurate (1)

Voltageaav (798022) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238385)

While I was in the Air Force, I had a security clearence and had to go through the same background checks. I told them from the beginning I had smoked pot before and had no trouble. That's not the issue. The issue is if you lie about it. If you lie about anything and they find out about it, that's when you fail the check. There are other things as well. If you have people you talk to from certain countries. One person I worked with failed his check because his ex wife was from one of those countries. He did eventually get his clearance, but he couldn't work for a while. Doing the check for everyone may seem excessive, but anyone who works in the same building that classified information is kept in could potentially pick up classified information.

Re:Linked article isn't accurate (2, Interesting)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238925)

While I was in the Air Force, I had a security clearence and had to go through the same background checks. I told them from the beginning I had smoked pot before and had

And the point is that this has nothing whatsoever to do with security checks-- this is for all employees, not just ones with security clearance.

And, the other point is that they are lying about. They said it is required by HSPD-12. It is in fact, not required by HSPD-12.

A sample of the background check (5, Informative)

losttoy (558557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237157)

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-oe-rutten6-2009jun06,0,7067783.column [latimes.com]

"As The Times noted in January of last year, the government demanded that the scientists fill out questionnaires on their personal lives and waive the privacy of their financial, medical and psychiatric records. The government also wanted permission to gather information about them by interviewing third parties. At one point, JPL's internal website posted an "issue characterization chart" -- since taken down -- that indicated the snoops would be looking for a "pattern of irresponsibility as reflected in credit history ... sodomy ... incest ... abusive language ... unlawful assembly." It also said homosexuality could be a security issue under some circumstances."

Re:A sample of the background check (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237209)

It also said homosexuality could be a security issue under some circumstances."

It also mentioned marital impropriety. The idea behind it, of course, is that closet homosexuals and unfaulthful partners could be blackmailed into giving up sensitive information.

It's also convenient that the folks who fit the acceptable standards also fit in with the conservative "family values" type, lacking important life experience, and are more likely to do what they're told without question.

Re:A sample of the background check (1, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237773)

It blows my mind that they could use language like "homosexuality could be a security issue" in this day and age. And since when is sodomy "irresponsible" ? Is Fred Phelps a federal consultant on security matters now ?

As the almighty MC Frontalot often says, "You shouldn't ought to be intolerant about who queers like to fuck"

Re:A sample of the background check (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237937)

I can't envisage any situation where there is not an equal parallel where being heterosexual couldn't be a security risk. Perhaps they should employ only eunuchs.

Re:A sample of the background check (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238009)

It blows my mind that they could use language like "homosexuality could be a security issue" in this day and age.

Here's the rationale: Let's say you're gay but in the closet. Now I blackmail you for national security secrets...

And yes, same thing if you're an adulterous hetero or a problem gambler or a drug user. The issue isn't being gay per se, it's the societal environment around you. "Could be" probably means that a closeted homosexual is a potential problem, while an openly gay one isn't. In other words, if you have something about yourself that you would want to hide, you're giving others leverage that could be exploited.

by that logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28239019)

having plastic surgery

having HIV

being a registered republican or democrat depending on the area

watching pornography

getting spanked by your girlfriend/boyfriend

having a colostomy bag

being a muslim

being atheist

being jewish

having a black grandfather

having a white grandfather

etc etc etc

its all fucking bullshit. ok? its all fucking bullshit.

Re:A sample of the background check (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239115)

I'm all for requiring security clearance with working at JPL, but I firmly believe credit history is no indicator for security.

I have been disqualified from being hired at several jobs due to my credit history. It has no bearing on me as a person or how I conduct myself professionally.

I am not an irresponsible person, nor to I lie, cheat, or steal. That being said, my credit history has a single default with a credit card I got when I was 19.

I find it morally objectionable for HR to have the capability of judging other people and gaining access to private information.

This is why I no longer consent to background checks. Oddly enough, every other member of my family has, at some point in their life, held a secret clearance. Both my parents did in the 60's My brother did in the Navy. My sister doesn't but her husband did in the Air Force.
   

JPL Waste Reclamation Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237227)

Sorry, but if you work for ANYTHING that even remotely reaches a sensitive/classified nature, which JPL obviously does, you need it to get on the property, much less clock in, much less pick up your spouse (which I do, quite happily, every workday.) If you don't like it, I'm sure CalTech is hiring (oh wait, they're bankrupt. Again.)

Re:JPL Waste Reclamation Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237827)

Sorry, but if you work for ANYTHING that even remotely reaches a sensitive/classified nature, which JPL obviously does, you need it to get on the property, much less clock in, much less pick up your spouse (which I do, quite happily, every workday.) If you don't like it, I'm sure CalTech is hiring (oh wait, they're bankrupt. Again.)

Dick Cheney's dick is getting cold, please shut up and put it back in you mouth.

Re:JPL Waste Reclamation Engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28238135)

"Sorry, but if you work for ANYTHING that even remotely reaches a sensitive/classified nature, which JPL obviously does..."

Incorrect. There is almost nothing at JPL that gets into the classified category. I'm not sure how "sensitive" is defined, but the biggest deal at JPL would be making sure that export controls are observed and that ITAR rules [wikipedia.org] are followed (almost anything can be considered 'arms' by the government). Reasonable restrictions, but it's not the top-secret place you seem to think it is.

9th Circuit (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237329)

Is this the same 9th circuit that said the government can pass a resolution condemning a specific religious group by name and insult its members, without violating the 1st amendment? I think it is.

This should've been a News story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28237651)

OK, mod me offtopic if you'd like, but how is this a YRO story? The JPL campus is not an online affair. Privacy, yes, security, certainly, but it has nothing to do with online (other'n the fact that someone let it into Slashdot!) I mean, you don't see NASA letting us Internet denizens do anything about their program, aside from letting us vote for the name of an ISS module (and then turning our choice down), do you?

probing questions. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237679)

I know an IT worker who had to fill out a questionnaire for a law-enforcement agency ("cops" basically). One of the questions asked if they'd ever had sex with animals. I swear it's true. Personnel administrators sometimes go too far.

Re:probing questions. (1)

Leebert (1694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237899)

One of the questions asked if they'd ever had sex with animals.

A friend told of a coworker who, when asked that question (during a poly, no less) replied: "Do bears count?"

Apparently the investigator couldn't not laugh at that one.

Re:probing questions. (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28239695)

Do they actually deny you a programming job if you fucked a goat? (Say you got drunk in a barn one lazy summer[1].) Polygraph tests should be relevant to the job. Fucking a goat is not. Maybe ask if you ever fucked a server; that could impact performance and reliability of a server[2].

[1] No, that's NOT based on an actual experience.

[2] No, that's NOT based on an actual experience.

Re:probing questions. (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238153)

I hope he answered "only with a pig."

HSPD 12 is waste. (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237757)

Good. Now can we return back to having site-specific badges that are appropriate for the level of work being done at different federal facilities? Or we can use this new common ID that creates a single point of failure in the creation of badges, makes it easier to wander unescorted in facilities that you don't have access to, and adds significant cost and delay in getting people badged. Either way.

I guess things have changed... (3, Interesting)

billybob_jcv (967047) | more than 5 years ago | (#28237999)

15+ years ago I had a Top Secret/SSBI clearance. As part of the background investigation, I was required to give references that had known me for at least 15 years. Since my first security interview I had always told the truth: "yeah, I tried pot a few times in high school, but I never bought it or sold it and I never used it after that." I also told them that all of my family and friends knew about it and I didn't care who else knew. I told that same story at every interview, and I never had a problem getting any clearance. In the days before glasnost, when the KGB were the primary bad guys, we were always briefed that the biggest threat was an employee being compromised because of something that could be used against them - financial debts, drug use, criminal background, relatives in hostile foreign countries - anything that could be used as leverage to make you vulnerable to espionage. The idea with drug use wasn't that you were some drug crazed idiot - it was that you might be ashamed of the drug use, or might need money - and that made you vulnerable. I guess since I said everyone already knew about my minor BS, and I didn't care who else knew, it wasn't a problem. I think lying about it and then having it turn up during the investigation would have been much, much worse.

My investigation was in the 90's - before 9/11 and before Homeland Security. Officially, my employment was not dependent on my clearance - but everyone knew that the reality was that the position required a clearance, so without the clearance, there would not be an available job for me and I would be let go. It happened to a couple of guys who for whatever reason could not get cleared.

All ancient history now...

Re:I guess things have changed... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238137)

That's still true. They don't much care what you've done, it what you'd do to keep it secret.

"Porn? Yeah, it's not just me keeping a $9billion a year industry afloat." doesn't give Them anything against you.

"OH MY GOD DON'T TELL MY WIFE!" will preclude your clearance PDQ.

For the Homeland! (1, Interesting)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238439)

> Homeland Security Presidential Directive

Homeland, much like Fatherland, gives me proud images of charging in Panzer Tanks across the Ukrainian plains to stick it to the undermenschen. Long live Das Homelanden! Mein Liebe!

9th court, eh (1)

noshellswill (598066) | more than 5 years ago | (#28238941)

Then shag the bastards there are only nine of them.

JPL then... and now (3, Interesting)

UnixUnix (1149659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240263)

I worked at JPL for a few years (pre 9/11). It was a congenial environment. I got my badge with no hassles; I certainly sympathize with the present plight of my former colleagues and wish them good luck, and may they win if the case goes to the US Supreme Court.

I certainly hope the Obama administration will scale back Bush-era excesses. They have harmed us much more than terrorism ever could.

Incidentally, back then I was tickled to find out that the code we were writing for NASA spacecrafts was in the public domain -- anybody could request a copy. May I assume it is no longer so?! :)

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