Dear Tits and Sass: Security Clearances Edition

by suzyhooker on October 24, 2013 · 2 comments

in Dear Tits and Sass, Politics

image via flickr user x-ray delta one

image via flickr user x-ray delta one

Editors’ Note: Today’s Dear Tits and Sass is unexpectedly timely considering recent events in Washington, D.C. Anonymous tweeter @NatSecWonk was outed as White House employee Jofi Joseph and summarily fired. But he didn’t have just one anonymous Twitter handle; it looks as though he is also behind @dchobbyist, the epitome of the worst kind of client, one who seeks to rank women numerically on TER while describing every perceived flaw in detail and considers haggling over price to be a point of pride. It seems only right that the kind of hubris it would take to think you could get away with an anon account from the White House would come from a “hobbyist.” So! On to our own national security questions.

Dear Tits and Sass,

Could you do a post expanding on a topic brought up by one of the articles you included in the Week in Links for September 27, about whether sex work (in that case, stripping) can keep someone from getting a security clearance? The article was great, but it leaves me with some questions especially because of the fact that stripping is legal, but other kinds of sex work are not. In general I’d love to hear any additional perspective that you guys can dig up.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there worrying about this, but there are very few places that this kind of question can be asked, so I thank you sincerely for considering this as a post topic.

Best,
A

Ophelia Oliver: I interviewed for a job that required security clearance. I wondered how my history in sex work might affect clearance but I knew it was possible to get clearance because other people with job histories like mine have clearance. I asked people with histories selling sex, using drugs, and people who engage in kinky activities who have security clearance with the organization I interviewed with for their advice. They told me not to hide anything and not to lie. Honesty is key, and to be caught in a deception would close off the opportunities that require security clearance. Deception would indicate a lack of trustworthiness. Having secrets could make a person vulnerable to blackmail, and that would be a greater concern than having a past.

Daria: I have arguments about this with my boyfriend (who has a top secret clearance) all the time. He likes to make a big deal out of how I would never be able to get a security clearance; I am certain that I could—definitely at the lowest level, anyway. But he likes to give me a hard time. I asked him about this, and his guess is that stripping would not keep one from getting the lowest level (confidential) even if there’s some record of you having done it in the last 7 years…but that seems like a pretty big if. This is the form you have to fill out for the lowest level so you can see their attention to the 7 year timeframe and also all the questions they’ll ask.

The super high levels of clearance require a polygraph, so that would get tricky. According to all the highly cleared people I know (including clients!) they, meaning the government, are mostly looking for sources for blackmail, and to make sure you have no secrets from them. So in the poly they ask guys if they’ve had sex with men, if they’ve paid for sex, your drug use history, etc…. I’ve known drugs dealers and users who’ve had clearances, though probably the pot grower didn’t have to do a lifestyle poly, so it’s not as draconian as most civilians might think. And as lots of outlets noted, the Navy Yard shooter had a documented history of mental illness, and he had a clearance.

Anonymous Reader With HIgh-Level Clearance: The main thing governments are concerned with in vetting people for clearances is loyalty, generally to the national interest, and reliability, because they’re going to trust you with national security. You have to be able to keep a secret.

Any background in criminality ‎is going to be problematic. The very nature of criminal activity, or the perception of associating with criminals, casts serious doubts on a person’s reliability. The people doing the background checks are likely very conservative and unless they need you for a very specific thing, they’re not going to be able to overlook criminal records or ties to criminality.

Legal sex work is different. Chances are the moral position of the vetter will color their perception. Even though it’s legal, they would be concerned with how it would reflect on their organization to give a porn star a Top Secret clearance. It’s the same rationale that gets teachers fired for stripping. Being gay used to be a barrier, but now it’s not. The prevailing community sentiment about personal acceptable behavior is always evolving. Remember that organizations that issue security clearances tend to be very very conservative, and they tend to attract very politically and socially conservative people. These are the people making the decision (I bet 75% of the CIA votes Republican).

The other consideration is vulnerability to compromise, i.e. could a foreign power use that history as leverage against you. Take the homosexuality question. If I’m openly gay and don’t care who knows, there’s no vulnerability. But if I’m in the closet, and don’t want my wife or parents to know, that could be used to compromise me. Same goes for high debt—I could be induced to sell secrets to pay off gambling debts. A gambling, drug, or alcohol addiction makes a person’s reliability suspect. So even if I were a legal sex worker in the past but never want my kids to know, I’d be a poor security risk even if the activity itself didn’t automatically bar me from having a clearance. A clearance is simply a formalized form of trust, and the government needs to be confident that they can trust your character as a person. Sex work, or even unusual sexual activity (anything outside of monogamy) that is outside the perceived norm, could be a problem.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Miss Dior Dandridge October 25, 2013 at 3:37 pm

dchobbyist kept writing to me on twitter for an appointment but I ignored him. guess I dodged a bullet there

Reply

T November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm

DChobbyist tried to haggle into doing a one hour appointment when I have a 3 minimum. I told him I dont see hobbists and declined. I am so glad I did.

Reply

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