About the Author
CaptBlackEagle is a retired United States Air Force Security Specialist who worked with classified information up to and including Top Secret. He was responsible for creating many classified reports, the safekeeping of classified, and teaching others about how to handle classified information.
Information is one of the key factors in a nations power. This includes information they wish to keep from the other nations, and information they seek to obtain from other nations. One example is nuclear weapons design.
Classifications of United States Information.
Unclassified is not a designation as such, but includes data that is sensitive and not intended for public release. For instance a military base's telephone directory is not classified, but is considered For Official Use Only. Bulletins released by Homeland Security meant specifically for civilian law enforcement is released as Unclassified-Law Enforcement Sensitive. This type of information if released would not pose a danger to the United States.
Confidential is information that would damage national security if made public. This is the lowest level of classification.
Secret is information that would cause serious damage to national security.
Top Secret is information that would cause exceptionally grave damage to national security. This is the highest level of classified information.
Within the Secret and Top Secret classifications there is also a sub-set of information called Compartmentalized Information (CI). This information is normally associated with nuclear weapons.
Another control is the NOFORN designation. This means that the information may not be released to foreign nationals.
Access to Classified Information.
A security clearance is required for access to classified information. In addition, an individual must have a need to know. Just possessing the clearance is not enough to gain access.
Marking Classified Information.
All classified information is marked by the highest classification of information on the cover sheet. In addition the top and bottom of each page is marked, and each paragraph or graphic is also marked with its classification.
For instance, a Top Secret document may have paragraphs that are unclassified, or classified as secret.
Creating and Transmitting Classified Information.
Any means maybe used to create classified information, from a black crayon to a blackberry the information does not change and must be protected according to their classification.
Transmitting Top Secret information requires a courier, Secret may go by Registered Mail, and Confidential by certified mail.
The electronic transmission of classified information may only take place through the use of National Security Agency certified cryptosystems.
The protection of classified information is important to the security of the United States. It is not something you take lightly. It is a lifetime commitment. Your knowledge of classified information, and the commitment to protect it does not end when you retire.