Filling up a US clearance application, a 51-year-old military man disclosed his 20 years affair with the wife of his former college roommate, this information is supposed to be classified and remain secret between him and the government.
Washington was shaken up last week when information released that hackers had penetrated a database containing intimate and possibly blackmailing information about millions of private and government employees.
Hacking the White House Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could be a gold mine for foreign spies.
The 51 years old military man who upgraded his clearance when he got a job with a defense contractor was just a scape-goat of embarrassment and blackmail from the hacking.
He had successfully kept the affair from his wife for two decades before disclosing it on the government’s Standard Form 86 (SF 86) filled out by millions of American citizens seeking security clearances.
The announcement that the OPM’s data had been hacked frightened former and current US government personnel as they realized that their secrets about drugs, sex and money scandals could be revealed to foreign government.
The data that may have been compromised during the US Data hack which Associated Press reported included specifically detailed information on the SF 86 “Questionnaire For National Security Positions” according to US officials.
US Data Hack, China as Suspects
On a different attack on OPM disclosed earlier this month, the act was linked to China by US officials, though they aren’t so about the origin of the second attack than that of the first.
China had denied partaking in any of the US data hack.
As the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) performs its own clearance investigations, other agencies like the Defense Department, State Department and National Security also uses the OPM’s service to some degree.
The news did not specifically unveil how many Americans’ information may have been compromised. The SF 86 as of Oct 1, had 4.51 million cleared or is worthy to receive national security information as released in a report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI).
Professionals on Intelligence said the US data hack may be disastrous as China may use this to locate relatives of US officials abroad as well as evidence of drug or love affairs which could be a tool to blackmail or influence US officials.
“The potential loss here is truly staggering and, by the way, these records are a legitimate foreign intelligence target,” said retired Gen. Michael Hayden, a former CIA and NSA director. “This isn’t shame on China. This is shame on us.”
The SF 86 form is 127 pages long, and it’s regarded and extraordinarily comprehensive and intrusive.
Some of the information required by applicants to list includes; where they lived, travel abroad, contacts with foreign citizens; personal details of relatives, illegal drug use and mental health counseling etc.
Security appeal denials published on the web shows various information in the hand of hackers, including infidelities, psychiatric diagnoses, health issues, arrest, financial troubles and substance abuse.
A former senior US diplomat said “It’s kind of scary that somebody could know that much about us.” These data could be used to impersonate and American official online, get password and explore bank accounts.
Less Vulnerable Agencies from the US Data Hack
An A.U.S. official who knows more about security procedure speculated some agencies that do not employ the OPM for clearance giving a clue that there employee data could have been excluded from the compromise (the US data hack).
The former senior diplomat said someone with a complete set of SF 86 data and names of U. S. embassies officials which are usually public could compare both and make guesses about who might be a spy.
“Negative information is an indicator just as much as a positive information,” said the former diplomat.
The case of the military man who informed the government but hid a 20 year affair from his wife came to lime light when he filed an appeal in effort to upgrade his security clearance ran into trouble.
The man according to a May 13 decision by an administrative judge, who heard the case, revealed the affair in the “Additional Comments” section on the SF 86 in January 2012, ended the affair in 2013 and told his wife in 2014.
According to a Defense Office of Hearings and Appeal document published online, the judge wrote ” Department of Defense (DOD) is aware of the affair because Applicant disclosed it on his SF 86; the affair is over; and the key people in Applicant’s life are aware of it.”
His access to classified information was approved.