Screening the System


Screening the System

Exposing Security Clearance Dangers

Martha Louise Deutscher

216 pages
11 photographs, 1 appendix, index


February 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)

February 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

February 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Personnel Security Clearance System—the process by which the federal government incorporates individuals into secret national-security work—is flawed. After twenty-three years of federal service, Martha Louise Deutscher explores the current system and the amount of power afforded to the state in contrast to that afforded to those who serve it.

Deutscher’s timely examination of the U.S. screening system shows how security clearance practices, including everything from background checks and fingerprinting to urinalysis and the polygraph, shape and transform those individuals who are subject to them. By bringing participants’ testimonies to light, Deutscher looks at the efficacy of various practices while extracting revealing cultural insights into the way we think about privacy, national security, patriotism, and the state.

In addition to exposing the stark realities of a system that is in critical need of rethinking, Screening the System provides recommendations for a more effective method that will be of interest to military and government professionals as well as policymakers and planners who work in support of U.S. national security.


Author Bio

Martha Louise Deutscher retired in 2013 after twenty-three years of federal service. During her tenure at the U.S. Department of Defense, Deutscher served as the chief of public and legislative affairs for the Defense Security Service, the Defense Education Activity, and the Business Transformation Agency. In her work with the U.S. Information Agency, Deutscher produced live broadcasts with Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Kofi Annan, and other international policy experts.


“Cyber theft, exploitation of access to U.S. government files, and global terrorism are no longer just the stuff of spy novels. Martha Deutscher reveals that the state of the U.S. security clearance system is itself a pernicious insider threat. A must-read for a must-fix situation.”—Steven L. Katz, former counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs and author of Lion Taming: Working Successfully with Leaders, Bosses, and Other Tough Customers

“The American security system has become dysfunctional, and no one gives a more lucid, incisive critique of it than Martha Deutscher. . . . She gives a bracing account of a secrecy bureaucracy that has become unmoored from its mission.”—Hugh Gusterson, author of Nuclear Rites: A Weapons Laboratory at the End of the Cold War  

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. The Many Faces of a Threat
The Cold War, the Red and Lavender Scares
The "Crittendon Report"
Clinton and Executive Order 12968
Ethnicity as Threat
So Many Threats
2. The Personnel Security Clearance Process
Going Through the Process
Personnel Security and Big Data
The Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility to Access Classified Information and Some Complications Surrounding Them
3. Running Afoul of the System
Unanimous Agreement on the Need for Clearance
Flaws in the System
What Are the Limits on Investigators and Interviews
Problems with Self-Reporting
Problems with the Polygraph
The Presumption of Guilt
Problems with "The Symptems"
Problems with Leadership
Resilience, Dissent, and Disruption
Thoughts on Puritanish
4. Summary and Recommendations
Recommendations for a Better Clearance System
Appendix: Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information

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