It’s an odd feeling to begin to believe that you wasted your youth. It’s what I’m beginning to believe about my own.
Back when I was a skinny little critter, I wasn’t popping out illegitimate babies or selling/smoking weed or selling/shooting heroin or streetwalking or being a groupie to sports/pop music icons. I spent my youth as an enlisted woman in the USAF, and held a compartmented security clearance during the last “battles” of the Cold War.
We won, they tell me.
My DD Form 214—Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty—states that I had these two specialties (jobs): 1) Germanic Crypto Linguist, and 2) Slavic Crypto Linguist, Russian. Long-term training is required for the languages alone; that part comes first. Then there’s the second part of the training, the classified part–the part which one doesn’t even get to experience if something icky is uncovered in the background check. (When that happens, the person is pulled out of training altogether and, if they are lucky, they’re assigned another specialty. Unluckiness gets one kicked out.)
In this other part of the training, we learned all about our security clearances, how to handle classified information, the penalties for mishandling classified information, and what to do when mistakes are made. This very pertinent information is instilled and measured–tested–before any sensitive information is revealed to us.
It isn’t rocket science and, if I recall correctly, it takes only a few days. Most of us had high school diplomas only or a bit of “higher” education and very few of us were over 25 years old. It’s true, however, that we qualified for the specialty because of our measured high ability to remember when to breathe and remember when not to.
After that, there was the job itself. Stressful at times, but the great thing about it was that we knew why we were doing it and we knew who our enemies were–or so it seemed at the time. And after the victory was won, it was comforting to have been a tiny part of that.
Again, so it seemed at the time.
It was good for my personal self-respect to know that I was capable of loyalty and able to keep a secret—and not just because I would go to jail if I didn’t, but because I had given my word. These days, this is called adulting.
There are a few who held the linguist specialty who broke their word; the one referenced in the link defected to East Germany, had to spend some time in prison and, poetically just, is stateless. (Allegedly, he’s here in the USA and is, I guess, just another illegal alien.)
The rest of us are proud of what we achieved…but, as I look at the Labor Day weekend sub rosa news, I wonder whether we really achieved anything.
Hillary Clinton, wife of a former US President, a former US Senator, a former US Secretary of State, and the 2016 Democrat Party nominee for US President herself, has blatantly and openly violated everything for which I and many of my oldest, dearest friends stood.
But she hasn’t been charged with any of the TENS OF THOUSANDS security clearance breaches which she knowingly and willfully committed. She says that she can’t remember anything about it.
My black ass.
And the worst thing is that the investigative arm of this government admits it and will do nothing. She won’t serve time for treason or spend any time stateless. And she knew that long ago, knew before the first server was planted in her house. And now, so do we.
I should have spent the 1980s smoking weed.
BTW: Day 25 of not smoking anything.
Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.
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