Index Home About Blog
Newsgroups: sci.military.moderated
From: norton@PASCAL.ACM.ORG (Scott Norton)
Subject: Re: Top Secret, Eyes only, how many levels
Date: Tue, 11 Feb 1997 18:07:25 GMT

In article <> (Steve Wall) writes:

> Oh, and on the subject of "Levels".  Another compartmented area that no
> one has mentioned yet is CNWDI, which stands for Critical Nuclear Weapon
> Design Information.  I've heard of it but never had clearance for it
> myself.

To try and clarify all this: [with the caveat that I'm not a lawyer,
and if you have any questions about your clearance or your handling of
classified material, see your security officer.]

1.  The basic classifications in the US (Confidential, Secret, and Top
Secret) are defined by one law. (The National Security Act of 19??, I
think.  I was briefed on it, like anyone granted a clearance, but
don't have the title at hand.)  The classification is based on the
level of damage that would result from disclosure, in adjective terms.
That is, Top Secret corresponds to "grave" damage to national security.

2. That law also has special verbage dealing with extra goodies like
intelligence and cryptography, leading to the "WINTEL" markings.  But
these are not classifications, they are just additional caveats.

3. Another law, the Atomic Energy Act of ?1950?, deals with bomb and
reactor stuff.  So to reveal "Restricted Data" would violate the
Atomic Energy Act.  If the information were "Confidential, Restricted
Data," you could violate two laws at once by telling it to your
brother.  Oddly, there are some things (reactor design stuff, maybe,
or weapons system data not part of the actual weapon physics) that
used to be Restricted Data, but was then moved out by an amendment to
the law.  This stuff is marked "Formerly Restricted Data."

4. On top of that, there are administrative instructions and
restrictions like NOFORN, NOCONTRACT, BURN BEFORE READING :)  Violate
these rules, and you will have disclosed classified information to
unauthorized persons, and thereby violated the basic law.

5. Now interface the US system with NATO, and you get markings like
was once the Alternate COSMIC Control Officer--the most impressive job
title around, but it merely reflected that the NATO equivilent of TOP

6. I don't know the legal basis of the special access programs--I'm
just a GENSER guy.

7. As any government contractor will tell you, the most serious
marking is "PROPRIETARY" ;) ;) Disclose this, and Lockheed-Martin's
lawyers will debrief you.  They're much more effective than NIS. :) :)

Scott Norton
Defense Technology, Inc.
2920 South Glebe Road
Arlington VA  22206
+1-703-299-1656, fax: +1-703-706-0476

Index Home About Blog