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Have a security clearance? Know the rules on Unauthorized Disclosure

"Every Leak Makes Us Weak" poster from the Center for Development of Security Excellence. (Courtesy image)

"Every Leak Makes Us Weak" poster from the Center for Development of Security Excellence. (Courtesy image)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Many jobs in the Air Force require a security clearance, whether military or civilian, and it’s critical that clearance holders understand the rules pertaining to unauthorized disclosure of classified and controlled unclassified information to protect national security and themselves.

“People [mistakenly] believe that the information they possess would be of no significant value to an adversary,” said Thomas Pavlick, 88th Air Base Wing Information Protection information security specialist. “In reality, all classified, controlled unclassified and sensitive information is important to our adversaries and so must be protected.”

Due to a number of recent unauthorized disclosures across the Department of Defense, base leadership would like to put a focus on reminding security clearance holders of their responsibilities and why it’s important.

“Unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information result in damage to national security, put our warfighters at risk and give our adversaries insight into our capabilities,” said Col. David R. Anzaldua, 88th Air Base Wing vice commander in a recent e-mail to 88th Air Base Wing staff.

One of the simplest ways to know what can and can’t be released is just by reading over the standard form that security holders sign when starting their job, the SF 312 Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement. The NdA not only details the proper handling and dissemination of classified information but also the penalties for doing so without proper authorization. It also states who owns classified information, when information in a person’s custody has to be returned and clarifies how long the provisions of the agreement are enforceable.

“Until the U.S. government permits disclosure of the information, that is until it is no longer classified and has been officially made available for public release,” Pavlick said.

In addition to the NdA, there is a 20-minute Unauthorized Disclosure Refresher video developed by the Center for Development of Security Excellence available on YouTube (URL above). The video is based on the Unauthorized Disclosure Refresher course which is available, along with numerous other training resources including case studies, instruction on properly marking classified information and derivative classification procedures, on the CDSE website (URL above).


For those who would like more hands-on training, the 88 ABW Information Protection office hosts a “Marking Familiarization” course every other month. The course covers the purpose of marking classified and controlled unclassified information, the responsibilities of original and derivative classifiers, the rules for marking these materials, discusses the methods of downgrading and declassifying information and the procedures for improperly marked documents, according to Pavlick.

Pavlick said that if a situation occurs where there may have been a compromise of classified information, don’t wait to respond.

“If they believe they've been involved in or have knowledge of an unauthorized disclosure, they should immediately notify their leadership or security manager so actions can be taken to prevent further disclosure,” Pavlick said.

Pavlick said there are plenty of resources available to ensure that all security clearance holders have the information they need to properly manage classified and controlled unclassified information. Contact the 88 ABW Information Protection office at 255-4441 for more information.