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JPL Background Check Case Reaches Supreme Court

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the faster-boys-if-you-want-your-pay dept.

The Courts 112

Dthief writes "A long-running legal battle between the United States government and a group of 29 scientists and engineers of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has now reached the US Supreme Court." At issue: mandatory background checks for scientists and engineers working at JPL, which they allege includes snooping into their sexual orientation, as well as their mental and physical health.

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FROSTY PISS (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461516)

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JPL (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461528)

Jew Penis Latte

Try it out during your next Starbucks visit!

I'm not clear on what their case is... (3, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461552)

And TFA doesn't provide much enlightenment. They claim it's a violation of their privacy, but it isn't unusual for government jobs to require background checks. There's no constitutional right to work at JPL. Even if the employees concerned do not handle classified data, they do work at a lab where classified information is kept and highly secret defense projects take place. If they think their background checks are intrusive, they should see what White House employees had to go through in the Obama administration.

If they're that concerned about their privacy, maybe they should work elsewhere.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461586)

I am also not entirely sure what the issue is, but it could be something like this: JPL, as an EO employer, cannot discriminate based on sex, race, sexual orientation, etc. Therefore any background checks that are done should not be explicitly seeking out information on, for instance, whether they are gay or not unless there is some outside relevance (eg, their gay S/O is a known terrorist or something). If the background checks /were/ screening for sexual orientation without cause, I can see where they might get uppity about privacy concerns and the like.

Also, low-level clearances (Secret, for example) are basically just a criminal background check and a quick sweep over the government databases to make sure you're not someone /obviously/ bad. There'd be no reason whatsoever to stick in "are you gay?" to that level of check.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461796)

I am also not entirely sure what the issue is,

Scientists working in the lab on unclassified and non-sensitive research are objecting to an invasive background check.

If the background checks /were/ screening for sexual orientation without cause, I can see where they might get uppity about privacy concerns and the like.

The reason sexuality and sexual activity is part of a background check is because, in the past, it has been used to blackmail individuals into disclosing classified and sensitive information.

Background checks aren't just snooping for red flags.
All that information gets considered together and used to make a risk assesment.
To the government, a guy secretly cheating on his wife can be just as risky as a closeted homosexual.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461876)

To the government, a guy secretly cheating on his wife can be just as risky as a closeted homosexual.

If you're going to be gay and apply for this sort of job, you'd better be flagrant, parading on sunday, going-down-in-flames gay, not some sort of half-assed bicurious-with-that-one-guy-in-college type nonsense.

That way, when the chi-coms threaten to out you, everyone knows that you will laugh at them and go right back to your daily business.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462116)

And this is *EXACTLY* why the government needs to know this kind of thing. It may seem a little out of place in today's world but think back a mere 20 years ago. Being gay wasn't as accepted then. Think back even further. Like the 60's and beyond. If you were a homosexual you were presumed to be a deviant by most of society. Homosexuals weren't "closeted" back then. They were more like "in a dark closet in a tunnel dug under a trapdoor under a rug in the basement of a nondescript house."

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462288)

And this is *EXACTLY* why the government needs to know this kind of thing. It may seem a little out of place in today's world but think back a mere 20 years ago. Being gay wasn't as accepted then. Think back even further. Like the 60's and beyond. If you were a homosexual you were presumed to be a deviant by most of society. Homosexuals weren't "closeted" back then. They were more like "in a dark closet in a tunnel dug under a trapdoor under a rug in the basement of a nondescript house."

And that's why nearly all US spy cases involved heterosexuals who sold out their country to pay their gambling debts. which is why a group called "High Tech Gays" at Livermore Labs won a law suit during the Reagan administration barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in security clearances.

Frack you, bigot boy.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31463902)

Calling him a bigot for describing historic attitudes isn't exactly going to present you in a good light. History happened. It is what it is. Saying it is what it is isn't bigotry. He never said he agreed with the assessment, just that it existed.

Oh, and debt levels are another one of the things checked for security clearances. The people running these things aren't _that_ stupid.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

t0p (1154575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462998)

That was the case a while back. And I guess there still are places where some folk would fear being outed so much that they might be susceptible to blackmail. But I wouldn't have tagged Pasadena CA as one of those places.

Being gay isn't illegal or immoral. Therefore the blackmail theory doesn't hold much water. I know people who would fear being outed as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter, but I doubt a background check would redflag that.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462124)

Actually, the probability of being blackmailed goes up significantly once the government has access to the information.

A lot of this stuff comes from the cold war era and is rarely re-evaluated for efficacy.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (3, Insightful)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462800)

Actually, the probability of being blackmailed goes up significantly once the government has access to the information.

... and the probability goes up once the government cares about this information. Indeed, if being gay can get you fired or will harm your career, then any "bad" guy could threaten to reveal this info to the government.

If, on the other hand, the government doesn't care, that'll leave only decompilers.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462298)

I've been in the military, I've had security checks done on me and held clearance levels. Trust me, the low-level ones are nothing more than basic background checks, and sexual things have no business being there.

Now you want to talk TS/SCI? Yeah. They're gonna want to know EVERYTHING.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462600)

Yup. Secret clearences are run through the ENTNAC, [tpub.com] which anybody can pass. TS and above are where they send a guy to speak in person to friends and family and run more extensive checks. I was only SECRET scum, so I easily got away with violating UCMJ Article 83 [about.com] . No sir, I never smoked marihuana in my life.

It's Article 125 [about.com] enlistees should worry about. Fortunately, it's usually only invoked in high-profile cases and/or in conjunction of violation of articles like 120 or 134.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462804)

and sexual things have no business being there.

They do ask for the name of your spouse though. And if it's a male name (and you are male too), then they've got the info.

Of course, if you're still single, you're ok.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

tom's a-cold (253195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31465740)

And as a consequence of this filtering (if it's successful), only church-going, teetotaling heterosexual monogamists (or the undersexed) who have no political interests will be allowed employment. What they're really trying to promote is compliance to authority. In short, selecting exactly the kind of people who are likely to unquestioningly follow orders, no matter how criminal.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462002)

This is not a question of sexual orientation, but of susceptibility to improper influence for any number of reasons.

I work for a private company and I have high level clearances (Top Secret and more). My company is EO/Blah/Blah but I had to deal with all sorts of odd questions, and its not just sexual orientation, its how often do you gamble, or how much do you drink. When they interviewed for my background checks, they asked them all this as well.

We have monthly security "refresher" briefing that warn us not to talk to strange women in bars and avoid selling your soul to Frenchmen, etc.

The Gov doesn't give a damn if you are gay or straight, it *does* care if you have any sort of lifestyle that can be exploited to gain access to whatever uber secrets are in your head.

Ya, its a bit uncomfortable having to deal with all that, but then again I get to play with some cool toys :)

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (4, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462132)

If you're a typical geek and an attractive woman approaches you at a bar, you should know right away that something is wrong. She's most likely a hooker, a spy, or a process-server.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | more than 4 years ago | (#31465218)

If you're a typical geek and an attractive woman approaches you at a bar, you should know right away that something is wrong. She's most likely a hooker, a spy, or a process-server.

There was a time I approached a guy in a club, who didn't really look like the club type. Cause I go for guys who are a bit on the unusual side. And he was like, "okay are you a hooker or a spy? I suspect you're a hooker."

I told him I was actually a spy. But if it ever happens again, I'm going to say, "actually I'm a process server..."

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462850)

We have monthly security "refresher" briefing that warn us not to talk to strange women in bars

Why only strange women? Straight males and lesbians should sue against this blatant discrimination.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462118)

Also, low-level clearances (Secret, for example) are basically just a criminal background check and a quick sweep over the government databases to make sure you're not someone /obviously/ bad. There'd be no reason whatsoever to stick in "are you gay?" to that level of check.I agree with you completely.

However, it would be nice if we could even find out what is included in the background check.

As an example -- I am an amateur radio operator who would like to be of assistance in a disaster to help organizations like the American Red Cross. However, the haughty management at ARC, a couple of years back, took it upon themselves to mandate the imposition of a very intrusive background check on all employees -- and on all VOLUNTEERS.

It is a three-part check -- criminal, credit and LIFESTYLE.

What is that in aid of? They refuse to say what is included in the lifestyle check, beyond saying it's "not limited in scope". And you can be damned sure they will not tell you on what basis you may be rejected. They've obviously been sucked into the current DHS hysteria and think they can just lay on requirements and expect those affected to just knuckle under and accept their crap without question.

The ARRL (American Radio Relay League) is a nationwide organization which covers issues affecting radio amateurs. As a result of the ARC's decision, the ARRL found it necessary to caution amateurs that they should carefully consider what they are giving permission for if they sign up as a volunteer. In further negotiations, the ARC apparently backed off the lifestyle requirement for people volunteering for seven days or less. (Pretty minor disaster, huh?).

Here is a link to the ARRL statement on this issue

http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/RC-Background-Checks0610.pdf [arrl.org]

The ARRL takes no position recommending any specific action to be taken over this issue beyond cautioning potential volunteers to carefully consider the details of what they are authorizing. The link includes the high-handed language insisted upon by the company to which the investigation has been outsourced.

Note that the doc is dated son\me two years ago. To the best of my knowledge, the situation has not yet been resolved to the point where the ARRL will sign a final MOU for co-operation with ARC.

A later doc explaining the ARRL position, after further negotiation, is at http://www.arrl.org/announce/ARRL-ARC-bg-check.html [arrl.org] . Despite the ARRL backing down, the investigating company still asserts that you are consenting to investigations of unlimited scope.

Raw intransigence, if you ask me.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (3, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462214)

This [hspd12jpl.org] [PDF Warning] is the "suitability matrix", their criteria. Notice that "sodomy" is a Class C (D being the worst) offense. Weren't the nations archaic sodomy laws struck down by the supreme court in 2003?

[citation needed] -- Wrong file linked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31463048)

That's not what's in that file did you read it before linking it? What I saw there was just a form where you're supposed to put all your personal information (addresses for the last few years, SSN, etc.).

I didn't see a matrix of any kind, and the only reference to sex was the question asking if you were male or female.

Re:[citation needed] -- Wrong file linked? (2, Informative)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463564)

I believe he was trying to link to this file [hspd12jpl.org] , provided courtesy of this post [slashdot.org] .

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

iamwahoo2 (594922) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463942)

You can find all the information included in a government background check here: http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf86.pdf [opm.gov] Sexual preference is not included. Identifying information like Male/Female is. There is a mental health section.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462190)

With security clearances, sexual orientation only becomes a concern if the investigator thinks that it opens you up to blackmail or coercion.

Sexual orientation is imporant (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462518)

Because some people fear it being revealed. Remember that a security clearance background check has one and only one question (which is why it's called a Single Scope Background Investigation): Is there something that could cause this person to give up secret information? Well that sort of check involves some obvious things, like if you are affiliated with a foreign government in any way, and if you have large debts and so on. However it also involves less obvious things, but things that could be used as leverage over you.

So, they don't care if you are gay, they care if YOU care that you are gay. If you are in the closet and someone could use that as leverage to make you divulge information, then they are worried.

Security clearances are real different from any other kind of background checks because they are interested in different things.

Also a secret clearance is far more than just a criminal records check. An investigator will come out and talk to you, as well as people you know. It takes a good deal of time. This is not only because they want to know about you but because they want to make sure you are who you say you are. They check to see if the people who should know you actually do. They want to know everything about you, and make sure you have no secrets that can be used against you.

Re:Sexual orientation is imporant (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462840)

So, they don't care if you are gay, they care if YOU care that you are gay.

But by appearing to care if you are gay, they actually could cause you to be concerned, where you weren't concerned before. So, in the end, this "are you gay?" question might be quite counterproductive.

A potential blackmailer now has an obvious place where he can threaten to reveal the info to.

Re:Sexual orientation is imporant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31465242)

If you didn't care before, then the government is very likely to find out about it without trying. Because you didn't care and took no pains to hide your orientation.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463736)

Since when is Secret a "low-level clearance"? Yes, different agencies have different classification schemes, but Secret is nearly as high as one can get. Even Restricted and Confidential (the only two levels for which *I* have undergone background checks) required check-ups with friends and family by an FBI agent before I was granted need-to-know at that level.

      "Secret" level clearance requires a LOT of money (probably on the order of $50k - $150k) and at least several months (sometimes two years) worth of investigation time for a single background check.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

bware (148533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463962)

The great majority of people at JPL don't require any clearance at all. Only about 100 people out of 5000 need any sort of clearance, be it Secrit, Duper Super Secrit, or Pinky Swear. The point is, all 5000 would be required to undergo the background check, clearance or no.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (2, Interesting)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31464446)

I don't disagree. I work in a facility in which nuclear weapons and chemical/biological weapons research is done, but I am nowhere near it. The fact that all of the researchers have to go through nominal background investigations despite having nothing to do with the "behind-the-fence" stuff is pretty annoying. It makes life pretty difficult for everyone.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31464104)

Their sexual orientation DOES Matter and let me tell you why. Suppose they are closet heterosexual but are in a committed homosexual relationship. If some foreign power was able to determine that they're having an illicit love affair they could be blackmailed into giving out secrets. Imagine the shame and horror they would feel to have to tell everyone that they were really heterosexual when they haven't come out of the closet yet.

I've gone through background checks and they look for ANYTHING that could be used to coerce you or indicate that you're a security risk. It has nothing to do with discrimination.

And yes, I did intentionally make it look like heterosexuality would be something kept secret to make the example more extreme.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (5, Informative)

shoota (834369) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461588)

JPL employees are not federal employees. Rather they are employees of Caltech which is contracted by NASA to run JPL. The federal government owns all of the equipment and facilities, but Caltech is in charge of the personnel.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (5, Insightful)

kriston (7886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461738)

It still does not matter. The customer is the US Government. They want contractors to abide by certain rules including security clearance vetting. These do not involve sexual orientation but they do involve blackmail risks which is perfectly reasonable for them to be concerned about.

If you do not agree with security clearances you should not work for entities that require them. They really do not care about sexual orientation. They only care about exploitation risks. It really is that simple. The question is: can you be extorted? It's a valid question. It needs to be addressed.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462090)

These jobs do not involve security clearances. RTFA please.

Much more at plaintiffs' http://hspd12jpl.org.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462242)

They really do not care about sexual orientation. They only care about exploitation risks.

That was my thought. In certain jobs that involve national security, openly gay employees are fine, but closet homosexuals are at risk of blackmail (along with employees with anything else they want to hide from those close to them).

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463938)


  The question is: can you be extorted? It's a valid question. It needs to be addressed.

No, it's not a valid question. Extorted for what? These guys work for JPL [nasa.gov] , which works on such projects such as the Mars Rover.

"Tell me the composition of rock 153 on mars... or I'll tell the world you're a fagot!"
"Tell me the composition of the Jovian moon Titan... or I'll tell the world you're a former alcoholic!"
"Give me pictures of the nursery nebula taken by the wild field camera on Hubble... or I'll tell the world you and your wife are into wife swapping!"

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469610)

If you do not agree with security clearances you should not work for entities that require them.

Bingo! But what you fail to take into account is that the government CHANGED ITS MIND after DECADES of not requiring background checks. In fact, many of the scientists chose those jobs specifically because they did not want to suffer a background check. What's particularlly damning is that there has been no new threats to justify the change in security policy, if anything risk has been reduced over the years, not increased.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461622)

IIRC (I work at JPL but haven't been following this in a long while) what was really the issue is that the federal law requiring these new badges does NOT require a background check. It simply mandates that all federal employees have a particular type of badge that accurately identifies who they are, or something along those lines. The background check portion was added by the government (not asked for by NASA or Caltech) and so it isn't required by law yet was being forced on the employees.

Like I said though I haven't followed this in a while...if you look at the related stories and the articles attached to those I'm sure you can find your answer.

Perhaps they remeber Turing. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461690)

In other words. What has sexual orientation got to do with security?

Re:Perhaps they remeber Turing. (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461724)

i'm not sure they have hard evidence of that. i'm pretty sure the gubberment looked long and hard into their life as a whole though.

Re:Perhaps they remember Turing. (1)

Guru2Newbie (536637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461776)

If they are trying to keep their sexual orientation a secret, and someone blackmails them to provide (or sell) classified information or else their sexual orientation will be revealed, then it becomes a security issue. If they're not trying to hide anything, then it's a non-issue.

Re:Perhaps they remember Turing. (-1, Flamebait)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461812)

That's not true. One might very well be open about that everywhere except at work. Which wouldn't make it any sort of risk. It's the sort of thing that neo-conservative trash likes to do so that they know what sorts of people to deny on spurious grounds.

Remember the Bush administration used information of this sort to decide who was and was not eligible for employment. Or have you forgotten the litmus testing by some of the political appointees?

Re:Perhaps they remember Turing. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31467900)

I'm sure there are plenty of people in high places who want to keep extra-marital affairs secret but I doubt they would resort to treason to do so.

Re:Perhaps they remeber Turing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461846)

If they are in the closet, it makes them easier to blackmail. That matters for top-secret clearance, but since these guys aren't involved in that, the government has to make the case that these guys are a security risk anyway.

Considerably more information (4, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461782)

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461870)

There's no constitutional right to work at JPL.

STOP IT RIGHT NOW, YOU POMPOUS, BLOODY FUCK!!!

I am sick to goddamned death of you little shits who pretend to be Constitutional scholars and can't understand (likely due to having never read) the Ninth amendment -- a single clear statement.

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

IOW, asshole, rights need not be explicitly granted to the people.

Harsh language and harsh argument were had to guarantee the inclusion of the Ninth Amendment in the Bill of Rights. It was absolutely a show-stopper. One sentence used was directly aimed at dipshits like you -- "... otherwise some fool, two hundred years from now, will try to assert that people may not have a certain right, just because we failed to enumerate it."

Write to your congress-critter, dumbass -- they pass out copies of the Constitution for free.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463548)

First time in a long time I've seen an AC make sense. Mod parent out of the gutter so people see this.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

astar (203020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461904)

pooh, I could not reach an opinion, so it was late and I was bored and so I googled a bit.

http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/03/scientists-case-on-background-ch.html [sciencemag.org]

it looks like this is a new 2007 rule stemming from a 2004 homeland security thingy. it is making long time employees upset.

and among the scientists in the case are mars rover types, for which anyone might question the need for intrusive background checks

and i notice they got an injunction, maybe easily and maybe sometime ago. now that great defender of the technology and exploration, the narcissist-in-chief, is raising a stink. Or at least his Holden creature. mars is said to be red, rather than green, so being interested in mars is probably a security negative right away.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (4, Insightful)

honkycat (249849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461956)

There is very, very little classified work at JPL. The vast majority of the jobs have no need for any sort of clearance. The few that require a clearance already have it, and there is no objection to this requirement or to the background checks for those who need the clearance. The problem is that they're essentially asking for a carte blanche to probe the backgrounds of employees who have explicitly been categorized as not needing special access. Furthermore, there were strong signs that absurd criteria based on the results of these background checks were going to be used to deny them.

I was affected by this as a graduate student who used to work at JPL. As you suggest, I would have changed projects rather than submit to this. Several high-profile scientists and engineers there made a similar decision, and they and others filed this suit. You can be flippant about it, but the work they do there is important, and it's awful, awful policy to force these people out over a ridiculous show of force like this. These people could make a lot more money working in the private sector, but they offer their talents toward projects that benefit us all. It takes a special kind of stupid to act like anyone's doing THEM a favor by "letting" them work there.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31464064)

JPL actually has a LOT of classified work done there. It is kept under wraps for a reason. And I doubt that you would really be aware of it. For example, when I worked at bell labs, we had a black room where any classified discussions were done. But the employees were actually working throughout the company and worked on related projects. It was just the changes needed to turn it into a dark project that was discussed elsewhere. And yes, many of our classified items are simply nice things from the civy world, but with modifications that make them useful.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462004)

These employees had gone through a background check (NAC) when they were first hired. They have no access to classified information, nor do they have access to locations where classified projects may be developed. The requirement extends to the cafeteria workers and the groundskeepers. The plaintiffs are employees of Caltech and are not civil servants.

The investigations (and re-investigations every 5 years) would require the employees do "voluntarily" sign a waiver (http://www.opm.gov/forms/pdf_fill/sf85.pdf [opm.gov] ) that would authorize any investigator to "obtain any information" from a long list of enumerated and "other" sources, and would authorize any custodians of such information to release it on request, "regardless of any previous agreement to the contrary".

The investigators then send questionnaires (http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2005/pdf/05-21051.pdf [gpo.gov] ) to neighbors, former employers, and references asking, in an open-ended manner, for any derogatory information.

After the investigators are done, a NASA official "adjudicates" the applicant based on criteria that include "carnal knowledge", "attitude", "sodomy", and, sometimes, "adultery" and "cohabitation". The criteria had been posted on a NASA website, (http://nasapeople.nasa.gov/references/SuitabilitySecurityDeskGuide.pdf [nasa.gov] ), now replaced with an empty page. The plaintiffs have posted a copy at (http://hspd12jpl.org/files/SuitabilitySecurityDeskGuide.pdf [hspd12jpl.org] , see page 65 of the pdf). In their latest court filing (http://www.justice.gov/osg/briefs/2009/2pet/7pet/2009-0530.pet.rep.pdf [justice.gov] ) the Solicitor General denies that NASA uses this.

A lot more on this is at the plaintiff's website, http://hspd12jpl.org/ [hspd12jpl.org] .

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462012)

Agreed, and I feel the same way about sexual favors for the boss. There's no constitutional right to any job, and you should see what prostitutes have to do to keep *their* jobs, never mind Obama staffers. So, if your boss wants sexual favors from you and you have a problem with that, then maybe you should just go to work somewhere else.

Sound about right?

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (3, Informative)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462122)

OK, so you're a little uninformed about the whole issue. Well, a lot uninformed.

The deal is that people who have been working loyally FOR YEARS could suddenly find themselves unacceptable and out of a job due to a background check that is abusive enough to qualify for a security clearance even though in fact it would not be a security clearance. Not only that, but the abusive snooping extends to everyone you've ever known. That's a wide net. Not to mention having to list every place you've ever lived in the past 7 years along with contact info to prove you were there.

Also, very little classified work goes on at JPL. Very little. Most everything they do is released to the public sooner or later; usually sooner. They partner with universities all over to provide them with scientific data from instruments on spacecraft and those institutions get their data in minutes, not even days or weeks.

"There's no constitutional right to work at JPL."

Yeah, I love that one. There is no constitutional right to privacy either, but it would be a mistake not to fight the government every step of the way when it comes to invasion into the personal lives of its citizens when it is not warranted.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31463700)

There is no constitutional right to privacy either, but it would be a mistake not to fight the government every step of the way when it comes to invasion into the personal lives of its citizens when it is not warranted.

Well, there is no explicit constitutional right to privacy, but the constitution is not a exhaustive list of all your rights.

The constitution doesn't say you have the right to walk down the street wearing jeans, but any judge would toss out a law saying you can't do that.

Many constitutional scholars & judges say that there is an implicit right to privacy in the constitution.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (4, Interesting)

bware (148533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462248)

JPL employees do not work for the government; they work for Caltech. NASA data is not classified; just the opposite. By law it is required to be made available to the public (subject to ITAR restrictions). Very few projects at JPL require any kind of clearance. 5% of JPL works on non-NASA projects, i.e., something that could be classified, so 250 people of 5000. Of those, probably less than 100 need a clearance (most non-NASA projects at JPL are not classified, rather the money comes from NSF or industry or some other grant). Those projects that are sensitive, are not "highly" secret, as those things go. It just isn't that kind of lab. On those that are sensitive, the people working on them do go through the background checks. On the usual need-to-know basis, why does that mean that everyone else working there (4900 people of 5000) need to have a clearance or this sort of intrusive background check? If the 100 people with clearance do their job, no one else has access to anything classified. If they don't, having the other 4900 people have a background check won't help because security has already failed. I've had a clearance elsewhere so I'm familiar with the drill. If you have clearance to one thing, that doesn't mean you have clearance to anything else, whether at that level or below. One of the reasons I took this job is because it had no background check.

These sorts of checks haven't been required at JPL for the last 50 years, through wars cold and hot. Why now?

Or are you suggesting that anyone who works for the government, directly or indirectly, be subject to this sort of background check? Teachers? Dept. of Interior? Fish and Wildlife? USGS? Highway subcontractors? After all, it's all federal funds. No one has a right to government money. Do your rights go out the window if you get paid by the government first, second, or third hand?

Clearly it's ridiculous to suggest that USFS employees go through a background check, as it is the guys pushing shovels on the highway. So the question is, where is the line drawn? For the past 50 years, it's been drawn on the other side of JPL employees with no issues. Why so eager to toss our rights down the drain, and for what benefit?

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

kyrcant (858905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462272)

I think the point of checking the S/O is a legacy procedure that was built in to ensure that they could not be blackmailed. The security people want to know you're not hiding anything so that a bad guy can't say, "if you don't hand over those pictures of alien spacecraft around Jupiter I'll tell your wife/parents/dog that you're gay/use drugs/watch manga." As long as you are up front with your past drug abuse and s/o, the bad guys can't blackmail you with it, and you're okay.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462702)

There's no constitutional right to work at JPL.

Of course most Trolls get up-Moderated on Slashdot. The point being (here) is that outside of NASA there is almost no employment opportunities for space scientists. The people who can get employment elsewhere (like as Rocket Scientists) tend to get assassinated by the Mossad.

If they think their background checks are intrusive, they should see what White House employees had to go through in the Obama administration.

No scientist is interested in jeopardizing the security of the organization they work for. It's a matter of having RELEVANT background checks that are RELEVANT for the job at hand. So for example, knowing if scientists have a criminal record (for THEFT) may be relevant, but wanting to know their sexual habits is NOT RELEVANT, but it CAN AND WILL be used to (unfairly) discriminate against people. This is common sense. These "background checks" are also just a fishing expedition (that can easily be abused) by Human Resource departments. An intelligent and relevant background check would be to make sure that their degrees / diplomas came from relevant and real institutions and that their esteemed colleagues can give them good references. Whether they have gay sex and smoked a marijuana joint in high school is NOT RELEVANT to the security of the US of A nor the science institutions of NASA. There should be NO NEED for an AC to have to explain this.

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (2, Informative)

CheshireCatCO (185193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463316)

As someone who was likely to be required to undergo a background check to get a badge (as an external contractor working on the Cassini mission), I have some knowledge of the checks they want to do.

First of all, many, perhaps most employees and contractors don't handle classified data. We're doing scientific work with technology that's 10-20 years old by the time it's in orbit around another planet. So it seems excessive to worry about the security risk.

Second, the form that they wanted us to fill out (the "matrix of risks") dates back several decades, to the 50s as I recall. You can imagine how wonderfully relevant it is. And it seems to rate sexual orientation (for example) as a more important risk than, say, having committed a murder. Seriously. It was comical, or would be if it weren't so serious.

Third, the checks that they seek to do aren't simple "does she have a felony on record or a similar problem in her history?" They wanted us to sign permissions to do some pretty deep snooping: they wanted permission to contact former neighbors, friends, teachers/professors, and even doctors. Which, for non-classified scientific research, is absurdly invasive. Astronomical research just isn't that important to begin with.

In general, JPL seems to have developed an obsession with security theater (ask me for stories there sometime) after 9/11. My suspicion is that it makes them feel more important to "need" extra security all over the place. (As if any terrorist organizations are keen on blowing up JPL anyway. It utterly lacks the profile or significance to just about anyone outside of the geek community.)

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

kevinT (14723) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463536)

If you are not sure - read the linked articles. These are employees of a civilian contractor working on NON-classified projects funded by the government. They are NOT government employees.

They object to having a very invasive background check, a check that would not stop even if they left their position, simply because George Bush wanted to be King!

Re:I'm not clear on what their case is... (1)

tom's a-cold (253195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31465696)

it isn't unusual for government jobs to require background checks.

It wasn't usual for employers to refuse to hire people because of their race either. If we really care about rights, then we're going to have to constrain the behavior of not only government, but private entities. And "don't work there if you don't like it" won't solve the problem. What do you do when all employers impose such intrusive conditions of employment? Piss testing, polygraphs, what next? Most of the unaccountable power that we face on a daily basis comes from private business. At some point, though, enough is enough, and there's nothing wrong with passing laws to prevent them from such abusive practices.

It is important (-1, Troll)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461562)

They ask questions like Sex orientation but that is under Lie detector. What is REALLY going on, is they are going to find out if somebody is a liar. The issue is not that a scientist is gay. It is, is a scientist gay and trying to hide it. If so, then it is point of entry by CHinese. All they have to do is send somebody to screw that person, take pix, and then blackmail into getting information. That is like America using illegal's to build high security buildings now. As such, it is easy for a Chinese spy to approach the illegal and tell them that they will report them elsewhere, UNLESS that person plants bugs in the building. If they do, then the spy will pay them large sums of money. SO, what does somebody that has ZERO loyality to our nation (think along the lines of a CEO style loyality), is offered a choice of going to jail or being large sums of money do? You KNOW what they will. And yet, we prohibit checks for illegals because we are afraid of hurting their feelings, or losing votes. TOTAL BS.

Re:It is important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461670)

What's loyality?

Re:It is important (2, Informative)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462148)

Anyone who really believes lie detectors work is unqualified to manage security.

You don't know how they work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462772)

They don't believe that lie detectors work. They believe that YOU will believe that lie detectors work and they can use that belief against you to extract information they couldn't find out any other way (and they compare what information they do get with what you give them, without letting you know what they know).

Incidentally, if they find out that you don't believe in lie detectors, you fail the test.

Re:You don't know how they work... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31464652)

So basically if you are smart enough to do scientific work, you are a security risk.

Re:You don't know how they work... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 4 years ago | (#31465280)

Not a security risk, but it closes one door to determining if you are one. Look, I do not believe in lie detectors. HOWEVER, majority of ppl do. As such, they get nervous on some things and not on others. What the security interview is about is to see how much of the stuff lines up with what others say about you. Security in the classified world is about trying to minimize having somebody spread information, having somebody who wants to sell the info, AND having them be able to be blackmailed. All 3 of those things are potential holes in any gov. work.

Re:You don't know how they work... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469222)

The key trait is integrity. Such a person can't be blackmailed to reveal classified information.

If you take the man's money ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461578)

... you take the man's shit. Or work someplace else.

Re:If you take the man's money ... (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461616)

Same should apply to welfare too. There's a debate in my state arguing against random drug testing for those receiving welfare checks. As far as I'm concerned, you have the right to privacy; when you apply for a job that is related to anything secretive (corporate secrets or government secrets) you relinquish your right to privacy to a necessary extent. If you want a want to privacy? Good. You want your privacy to remain unviolated AND get handouts or a job that requires secrecy and loyalty? No.

Re:If you take the man's money ... (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461696)

Same should apply to welfare too.

Yeah.. Start here [wikipedia.org] ..

Re:If you take the man's money ... (2, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461628)

If you take the man's money ...
... you take the man's shit. Or work someplace else.

Why? The man's an employee of the people. He should take the people's shit, since he's already taking their money.

Re:If you take the man's money ... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462154)

Sure, they could work in China, for example.

Re:If you take the man's money ... (1)

bware (148533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462296)

Yeah, like Qian Xuesen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsien_Hsue-shen [wikipedia.org] . That worked out well for the US.

"It was the stupidest thing this country ever did. He was no more a Communist than I was, and we forced him to go."

Let's do that again.

Re:If you take the man's money ... (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462588)

... you take the man's shit. Or work someplace else.

That's fine, but if Mathematicians (who have no access to classified data or classified equipment to begin with) and who's work is designed to go directly into the public domain are really forced to take this idiotic nonsensical background check (after nearly 20 years of service), then that means our NASA program has already gone down the shitter...

These guys have options, and they're already getting paid peanuts compared to what they could be making in the private sector. So if anybody should be taking those men's shit, it should be NASA's upper management. That's the way the shit flows usually, from the persons who have the most negotiating leverage to the persons who have the least (in this case, NASA's management has the least).

Careful there SCOTUS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461630)

Rule the wrong way on this one, and you might very well stifle the future progress of cutting edge government research groups. Of course, that won't effect private research, but how much Federal funding gets divvied out for research in the US again? Also, ruling against your public researchers may very well push ALL Federally funded research into the private sector. Hmmm. Maybe that's exactly where certain people want this to go...

Far less of an issue then polygraph tests I'd say. (2, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461700)

At least background checks are less likely to falsely implicate someone of being a spy.

some of it i agree with (4, Funny)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461712)

I don't know about you, but i'd certainly like to know my employer has looked into the mental health of the people i work with at a JET PROPULSION LAB.

sexual preferences shouldn't come into it though, unless they are concerned one of them is the goat.cx man, and they might smuggle out a rocket in their anus.

mental health? (2, Interesting)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461750)

so...someone's mental health is not relevant to whether or not they can work on top secret projects?

Re:mental health? (4, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#31462492)

That's the thing!! The work they're doing is not top secret. In fact, it's quite far from it. The research those 28 people are doing at Cal Tech goes directly into the public domain.

And of course, they have no issue with background checks for Professors that want to do classified work, or have access to classified work, or even access to classified equipment, but those researchers complaining are not doing any of that, they're just mathematicians, and if need access to something proprietary or classified, they just need to apply for it separately (which is fine with them).

Re:mental health? (1)

Alanonfire (1415379) | more than 4 years ago | (#31465996)

I was essentially writing this.

99% of what goes on at JPL is public domain. You're more likely to get a straight scientist blabbering on and on about why they chose a certain material for the fuselage of a rocket and how they designed the propulsion system at a bus-stop because he's bored and talking to a hobo than anything.

The only things we don't have access to as a citizen are the defense contracted projects.

Anyone can go to JPL and go on the tour and see all the stuff they're building and working on and you'll get some lead scientist just going on and on about every single tid-bit of information you don't want to hear because you don't understand what the heck he's saying.

This kind of probing is just intrusive.

Re:mental health? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31464258)

They want _MAD_ scientists to be working on their ultra top secret projects and not waste time at JPL. ;)

NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461752)

Just for your reading enjoyment, here's my submission MONDAY MARCH 08, @11:44AM (http://slashdot.org/submission/1188548/Bureaucracy-at-NASA-gone-mad?art_pos=7).

Guess the slashdot editors don't like my writing style. ;)

Okay, if there was ever a reason to shut down, dismantle and start NASA over it is this. The Supreme Court is deciding whether invasive (to me at least) personal background checks (sex lives, medical records) will be required of all JPL employees/independent contractors. No top secret work is done there and (I suppose) nothing military or even directly industry related. (In fact I thought the work of NASA was "For All Mankind".) Anyway, 28 scientists and engineers have so far refused to comply and if they lose this case will be fired.

While NASA claims that all Federal employees must go through this kind of check, I don't think these guys fit into the "all" category. It IS rocket science and I'm sure most of them have an IQ/educational background/creativity quotient that is extremely rare. I guess there could be a reason to do this if you were afraid that some personal information could be used to blackmail someone but as I mentioned before, what they are creating is destined to be public anyway.

So what if one guy has a fetish for SCUBA gear and chicken feathers? More seriously, look what happened to Alan Turing (father of the computer); if the Brits had had this policy in place and denied him any serious work in the war effort, computer technology would have set way back (and perhaps the decoding of Enigma and the winning of the war). As it is, they only managed to get him to commit suicide AFTER he had done some incredibly important work.

Look, if one of them is committing a crime/becoming a public menace, let the police deal with it. Otherwise keep the Republican religious police out of our bedrooms! (drug dens?).

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461788)

I hate to break it to you, but this court action is by the democrates and your much loved Obama administration. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6273VW20100308 [reuters.com]

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461836)

Attorneys are only obligated to put up a vigorous defense, not to win. An important distinction since strategically it would be better for Obama's supporters for them to lose. A loss at the Supreme court would be a real pain in the ass for conservatives in the future trying to engage in that sort of smear campaign. These jobs do not require a security clearance nor does NASA request that they have it.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461906)

As the poster of the parent I must ask: What happens if they win? Are they sure they will lose? (It is obvious IANAL). Can attorneys put up a vigorous defense but still count on losing?

The previous poster has a point that need responding to: I am (very) surprised that my (beloved) Obama administration would pursue this and don't understand the doublethink behind this strategy. Or is there some sort of compelling reason (for national security?). But I don't think that doing this for say bureaucratic efficiency would justify the loss of talent such a move would threaten.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468438)

the reasons are very simple - chop off the snakes head, it grows a new one. the way american's seem to blinding side with one party or the other never fails to astonish me. republican or democrate, they are just different flavoured assholes but both taste like shit.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461918)

Attorneys are only obligated to put up a vigorous defense, not to win.

The attorneys are required to defend the case. The policy makers aren't required to defend the issue. The Obama administration can lift a phone and END THIS in minutes. BHO need only call up the head of NASA/JPL and tell them to settle/acquiese and the case is over.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 4 years ago | (#31461938)

Isn't it great when you distort facts for political reasons? This suit was started during the Bush administration. The current administration is obligated to carry forward policies as otherwise they would have to start from scratch every 4-8 years. And frankly blaming the president for something I doubt he's even aware of is just downright stupid.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31468410)

haha suck it up big guy you know i'm right. there's nothing preventing the Obama administration from simply dropping the action, they don't need to carry on jack shit.

and in the first line you refer to it as the bush administrations suit, but i'm not allowed to call it the Obama administrations suit now because Obama doesn't personally know about it?! what makes you think Bush was anymore involved?!

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 4 years ago | (#31469888)

"what makes you think Bush was anymore involved?!"

Because his administration introduced it? Just a guess.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462128)

A semi-news oriented site rejected an opinion summary ? ....

*pitchforks & torches*

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (1)

t0p (1154575) | more than 4 years ago | (#31463054)

More seriously, look what happened to Alan Turing (father of the computer); if the Brits had had this policy in place and denied him any serious work in the war effort, computer technology would have set way back (and perhaps the decoding of Enigma and the winning of the war). As it is, they only managed to get him to commit suicide AFTER he had done some incredibly important work.

Turing lost his security clearance because he got a criminal conviction. Homosexuality was illegal in Britain back then. If the authorities had known of Turing's homosexuality during the war, they would have refused him clearance because of the blackmail risk. But that was at a time of war, and when homosexuality was a crime. I think the JPL case is a little different.

Re:NASA Bureaucracy gone mad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31463950)

"Republican religious police"? Don't be fooled by the Republican vs Democrat metric. The real metric is "Power for Government" vs "Freedom for Us". The repubs of the last 20 years or so have been little better than the dems. And do you really expect decreased government intrusion from the current administration?

Not Government Employees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31461852)

JPL is a NASA Lab run by Caltech. The vast majority of JPL employees work for Caltech. Also this is NOT a security clearance issue, as again the vast majority of JPL employees don't have a security clearance.

Do what now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31462784)

This is long so you can skip whats in italics. It's just a stupid personal story having to do with background checks.

These people are complaining about a background check for a job doing possibly classified work involving the federal government? If you are going to try to work somewhere that does work that might involve national secrets/security then expect them to go to extreme lengths to verify that you are who you say you are and that you dont have any motives for working there other than wanting to work there on those kinds of projects.

Go try to apply for a job at a nuclear power plant. Any job from cleaning the floors to security or H.N.I.C (head nucleardude in charge). Not only will they ask you for information for an extensive background check and psychological profile they will dig deeper. Many require polygraph tests, drug tests, and even keep track of your credit score. If you are a good candidate for the job they will call or even visit your neighbors. They will ask your neighbors what they think about you. Are you social? Was he/she a good neighbor? Were they active in any groups you know of? Did they do anything or associate with anyone that you thought was strange? They actually ask that kind of questions. I had a gentleman in a nice suit carrying a very official badge and gun stop by my house asking these questions about a neighbor that had just moved from next door to me in Arkansas to New Mexico and was trying to get on at a nuclear facility. He asked extremely personal questions about my neighbor. Going as far as asking me if I knew if he had a lot of sexual partners (didnt ask or seem to care if the guy was gay), and if I knew any of them or how to contact them. I answered all his questions and had to sign a form saying that to the best of my knowledge I was answering them truthfully. I called my uncle who is a lawyer and read the form to him. He said it was ok to sign it there was nothing in it that could get me in trouble no matter what I actually told the guy. The man in the suit also asked me not to go out of my way to contact the person he came to see me about but that if he called and asked me it was alright to tell the truth about them doing the background questions of his neighbors. He also told me that anything I said wouldnt be shown/told to the person in question and that my answers and comments would be recorded only as "neighbor".

When the guy asked if I though he had a stable personality I told him no. The neighbor had a bad habit of getting drunk and shooting stuff. We were out in the country and if a dog wandered into his yard (any dog) he would shoot it and usually he was drunk. I showed him the 2 bullet holes in my bedroom wall and one in my dresser where his aim was not very good or he had been drinking more than usual. This was in 1999 so I cant imagine what its like now after 9/11 (never forget). Dont know what job he was applying for but he did construction (concrete work) so I'm guessing it was in that field. The "agent" was at my house for over 2 1/2 hours and never once acted like he was in a hurry. He did everything like his job at that moment was the most important thing in the world. Never knew who he worked for his badge didnt say but his car had U.S. Government tags.

Anecdotes aside if you apply for a job that has something to do with the government, government projects, national secrets, or national security you will be checked. They will look at your life with a scanning electron microscope. If you shit your pants in 3rd grade they will know that your nickname thru highschool was shitpants. As long as they werent breaking any laws concerning equal employment then they can pretty much check whatever the hell they like. I dont mind the government or employer demanding these deep background checks. I want them to be as sure as possible that the people that are hired are extremely unlikely to ever commit treason for any reason be it financial or philosphical. There is no such thing as 100% sure but lets try to get as close as possible.

So if you have something in your background that may exclude you from jobs that require these deep background checks just find another job. Don't apply and then bitch and moan and file a lawsuit to try and keep them from finding out you screwed up 10 or 20 years ago. We all make mistakes and some employers want people who are as near perfect as humanly possible. We cant all be that person, so buck up and go work for another company.

Not to sound insensitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31463248)

Not to sound like an insensitive clod, but... You're (voluntarily) working for a government agency that develops, produces, and manufacturers technology used in everything from man-portable missile systems to ICBM's and Rockets to Mars....
Ummmm Yeah, sorry, but I'm going to side w/ big-brother on this one, no nut-jobs allowed. Period.
I HOPE that means the CIA gives you a rectal exam. I don't want to pay for the next Chinese rocket advancement, I don't want to fund home-grown terrorists, and if that means a few patriotic scientists have to put up w/ some inconvenience to accept a VOLUNTARY job offer, well, then, guess they should be glad it's not run by the military! Maybe they should go work for a commercial rocket development company if they're so concerned about their privacy.. but last time I checked, voluntary employment means you're free to walk away at any time. Don't sue because you didn't read the job description close enough.

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