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Government Security Classifications Essay

In light of the growing controversy surrounding the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the Republican Party is claiming that she used her personal email account to send classified information. The United States classification system is currently established by Executive Order 13526 and has three levels of classification – Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret.

The lowest level of classification is Confidential. Confidential material is defined in Executive Order 13526 as, “Any information that would cause damage or be prejudicial to national security if it were made available.” A variety of markings are used for material that is not classified, but whose distribution is limited administratively such as, For Official Use Only (FOUO), or Sensitive but unclassified (SBU). Although these items are marked unclassified, they are not to be sent via personal email. No special investigation is needed at this level for the individual other than “a need to know basis.” The second highest classification is Secret. Secret material is defined in Executive Order 13526 as, “Any information that would cause ‘serious damage’ to national security if it were made public.” Most information that is classified is held at this level. In order to have a secret clearance, you must have an investigation into your background to ensure trustworthiness. This is usually conducted by a government agency.

The highest level of classification is Top Secret. Top secret as defined in Executive Order 13526, “Shall be applied to information, unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause ‘exceptionally grave damage’ to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.” It is believed that 1.4 million Americans have top secret clearances. Top secret clearances are usually given to specific individuals who pass a very stringent security background investigation. Individuals with this level of classification work at the top levels of our government.

As you can see we have a government system in place to ensure that classified information is distributed accordingly throughout the government to protect national security. In regards to Mrs. Clinton, do you think that she broke the rules by using her personal email account? The jury is still out on that investigation.

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