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Loyalty Oath

I have quite a bit to say about the lead story this week. Let’s start with the story, from the 23 November 2014 issue:

Another Kind of Red Scare

In a move reminiscent of McCarthy-era red scares, agents from NASA’s Office of Protective Services demanded that some employees of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory sign loyalty oaths. Concept development design engineer Cate Heneghan, who has been a JPL employee for 26 years, was threatened with denial of “access” to the lab’s security perimeter — which means she would not be able to do her job — unless she answered questions like “Do you have 100 percent allegiance to the United States?” because she is a dual citizen: Heneghan was born and raised in the U.S., but is also a citizen of Ireland. Other dual citizens at JPL were also targeted, but most were “too frightened to resist” the intrusive questions, which are only appropriate for those with security clearances. JPL management got two of the questions dropped, but Heneghan and others were forced to answer the rest or lose their jobs. When a local congresswoman stepped in, NASA admitted the questions “were not agency approved,” and the OPS agents used “inadequate or misapplied training” in their questioning. “I find this whole thing embarrassing for our country,” Heneghan concluded. (RC/Pasadena Weekly) …And she doesn’t mean Ireland.

Full Disclosure: I know JPL’s Cate Heneghan from my own time working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. When she was hired, they happened to drop her in the office next to mine, and while we’re not close, we’ve stayed in contact over the years. Rather than a fiery Irish lass (though she is a redhead — hence my “red scare” slug on the story), she’s a smart, thoughtful, and capable professional who knows her job and does it well.

NASA logoSome might have the knee-jerk reaction of “Well of course we want people paid with tax money to have 100 percent allegiance to the United States!” — but that’s not thinking it through. Politicians, especially, like to refer to “God, family, country” — in that order. (Sarah Palin, for instance, when announcing she was not going to seek nomination for President in 2012 noted, “As always, my family comes first…. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.”) So those claiming “100 percent allegiance to the United States” have zero allegiance to their faith, and zero allegiance to their family. That’s the ideal? Few would think so.

And really, what the heck does that mean, anyway? Would an actual embedded terrorist have any problem with saying “yes” to such a question? It’s the thoughtful, real, complex people we want in tough jobs that would stop and say “Wait a minute, here….” when asked such a stupid question.

Cate herself put it this way, in reply when I sent her a note to tell her that I had seen the newspaper article, and it was going to be the lead story in this week’s True (she seems to have had to explain this to others):

You’re driving home late on a Saturday night after a long day at work. You come across a DUI checkpoint. You give the officer your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance. He verifies you are who you say you are and your paperwork is in order. He asks if you’ve been drinking; you say no. He notes that your behavior and the visual clues indicate you are not impaired. Your pupils respond appropriately to his flashlight. He does not smell or see any substances of concern in your car.

As he’s returning your paperwork, he requests to see your credit card. You are perplexed and ask him to confirm the request. He assures you that it’s standard procedure to check credit cards at DUI checkpoints. You know this is not right for several reasons: common sense tells you that credit card info is not necessary to ascertain whether someone is impaired; your friends have told you about their experiences at DUI checkpoints and credit card info was never involved; and you just read about DUI checkpoints in your state’s Vehicle Code, which says that once an officer is assured a driver is not impaired, he must let the driver go and not hold up traffic.

You ask him to show you the portion of the vehicle code that permits his request. He assures you his request is legitimate and reminds you that you must cooperate with officers at DUI checkpoints. You ask to speak to his supervisor. He explains that refusing to cooperate at a DUI checkpoint is a jailable offense. His supervisor walks over and agrees with him.

You now have a decision to make. If you refuse, they can haul you off to jail. You know all this will be dismissed when a judge sees it. (But you wonder if the cop and his supervisor will trump up the story about the evening.) You’ll spend the night in jail before anyone can bail you out. Your car will be towed and impounded, and you will have to pay for both. Since it is Saturday night, you won’t get your car back until Monday. To top it all off, you’ll have an arrest on your pristine record, which can cause problems when trying to get jobs in the future.

Or, you can just give him your credit card and be on your way.

What do you do?

You can use fill-in-the-blank other info instead of a credit card if you like. Example: a request to open the trunk and search without a warrant. You can say no, but he can say you were resisting an officer at a DUI checkpoint…

Indeed: what would you do in this police state environment? For Cate and the other employees, it wasn’t the inconvenience of having to go before a judge and get it thrown out in a heartbeat: it was losing her career and then having to hire a lawyer to fight to get it back. What would that cost?

So, what sort of other questions were the government agents asking? “If needed, would you renounce your citizenship with Ireland?” “Do you carry an Irish passport? What’s the number?” “Do you travel on this passport?” “Do you plan on renewing this passport?” and “Do you have financial interests or property in Ireland?” As if any of these things were crimes, or even indicated someone could be, maybe, a terrorist? The questions are outrageous in a free country. All along, Cate had questions of her own: what is your authority for asking such questions? What are the ramifications for answering yes or no to whether she would renounce her citizenship with Ireland “if needed”? And under what circumstances would it legitimately be “needed” to do so? It’s terrifying to be questioned in such a way: no wonder most of her co-workers were afraid to complain. (Only one other went public: a senior research scientist who has dual citizenship with France.)

Going Public

Why does Cate, then, have such guts? Let me tell you about her father, John. First, he was born in the Bronx, which tends to make a guy pretty tough. He joined the U.S. Navy for World War II. In 1964, he was working for the Navy as an equal employment opportunity contract compliance officer in the U.S. South — Georgia and Mississippi. Yeah: a job like that in 1964 was hard. “It was sort of tense,” said Mr. Heneghan’s co-worker, Gene Heller. “Word quickly got out within the establishment that we were doing investigations and compliance reviews for the government…. We used our rearview mirror quite a bit.”

Cate was born during this time, in Atlanta, during those civil rights struggles. Later, Mr. Heneghan was Director of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Commerce’s Maritime Administration in Washington, D.C. He pushed shipyards to offer employment and training to women and minorities. He had leverage: when the contract to build the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower was ready to be awarded, Mr. Heneghan wouldn’t award it until the contractor cleaned up its act. The company’s equal opportunity record was “as close as one could come in those days to separate but not yet equal,” Mr. Heller said. With this sort of pressure under Mr. Heneghan’s watch, the shipyard employment of women in traditionally male-dominated jobs went from 0.2 percent to 5.4 percent in just 10 years — and the employment of skilled black workers went from 14.6 percent to 25.6 percent.

Mr. Heneghan retired from the Navy Reserve in 1978, as a Commander; he died in 2007, at 79. That’s the man who raised Cate, so I’m not at all surprised that she’s tough too. (And she’ll be surprised I know about any of this, since she never told me. I’m a good researcher!) And now, slimy guys in suits carrying badges dare to question his daughter’s loyalty to the United States? Because she identifies with her Irish heritage?! Cate said it best: “I find this whole thing embarrassing for our country.” I agree — and neither one of us means Ireland.

What Is Reasonable, Then?

NASA’s facilities are terrorist targets, and they need to be protected. The agents were acting under the authority of “HSPD-12” — Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 — issued by President Bush after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Under this directive, every federal employee or contractor who has ongoing access to federally controlled facilities and/or information systems must be issued a PIV (Personal Identity Verification) smartcard (aka, access badge), and to get that they have to go through a basic background check.

The purpose of that background check, according to the Credentialing, Suitability, and Security Clearance Decision-Making Guide used by NASA investigators (the government term is actually “adjudicators”), is to determine “whether or not an individual is eligible for long-term access” — or not. Not whether they are qualified for the job (there are “no acceptable criteria” for agents to evaluate an employee’s “misconduct or negligence in employment), not whether they are straight (there are “no acceptable criteria” for agents to evaluate an employee’s ”sexual behavior”) — but a card “will not be issued to a person if the individual is known to be or reasonably suspected of being a terrorist.” Whew! At least there’s that.

There are no justifications included which allow agents to ask about dual citizens with friendly allies whether they have a passport from that country, or intend to renew it.

NASA’s Office of Protective Services threw the agents under the bus, claiming they didn’t have proper training. But what of the others who knew what they had been doing? Cate brought the questions to the attention of the NASA Inspector General, and the threats from the agents “continued even after we pointed out to higher levels of JPL and NASA management the errant behavior of the [NASA Management Office] adjudicators,” she told the reporter. “I was even found to be noncompliant for initially not answering the non-agency approved questions. I had to hire a lawyer to respond to this false claim of noncompliance. What other violations have been committed by NASA adjudicators and by the entire Office of Protective Services? How far up the NASA management structure does all this go? This was not the action of only one rogue employee. He did this with the full knowledge of his management at JPL as well as the JPL Director and Caltech* [general counsel]. The NASA [Inspector General] was also made aware of the overreaching questions, but did not act on the information. Who polices adjudicators to be sure they aren’t breaking policies or laws? How many others of the 5,000 JPL employees and 2,000 contractors have been subjected to unauthorized questioning? How will NASA disposition all the information they collected without authorization?”

Good questions all. And if these abusers of process aren’t slapped down, it will happen again.

– – –

*Caltech — the California Institute of Technology — operates JPL under contract for NASA, in part because JPL was initially created by Caltech students doing rocket experiments in the rural arroyo where the Lab is now located.

Sources:

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38 Responses to Loyalty Oath

  1. Jay, St Pete Florida November 24, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    I’m not sure whom amongst my NASA Tweetup alumni buddies has lunch with the Administrator… but the probably approaches unity that there’s at least one in there somewhere; I’ve posted the link to this in that Facebook group for their collective disbelief and outrage. 🙂

  2. Kay, Washington November 24, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    Thanks for bringing this outrageous procedure to our attention. At least someone was not a part of the “sheep mentality.” I am surprised that so many were willing to go along with it without questions. I don’t think that would have happened during the time we were there. I am sure that it would have raised significant questions with some of the attorneys who were on staff at that time.

    Kay is one of my former JPL colleagues. -rc

  3. Blue, Renton, WA November 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

    Ironic, how in order to be “patriotic” these days, you have to be “all right” with UN-patriotic, nosy, and insulting behavior, in the name of “safety” and “security.”

    The presumption of innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law is one of our MOST important rights if not THE most important. My dad was from Czechoslovakia, and the presumption of innocence was NOT a right he enjoyed until he came to the US in the 1950s. Before then, he had (barely) survived the likes of Hitler and Stalin.

    I agree we need to be aware of potential security risks, and deal appropriately with them. BUT, I believe it should be conducted within the boundaries of the law, and NOT because so and so had a “funny feeling”. I do NOT see how persecuting innocent people will make us any more secure. Something else to think about — if someone did want to threaten security, they would have ZERO compunction about lying on an oath of security. I somehow doubt that an enemy spy would feel compelled to tell the truth on an oath of loyalty, “Oh, yes, I work for (fill in the blank) and I want to steal this information/sabotage your work so my country can get ahead of yours.”

    In the case of a security breach, however, the blame would fall on the (government or other) security agency for sloppy handling for not catching the security risk BEFORE they got in to do their damage — either through sabotage or the passing of sensitive information.

    Then the taxpayers would be treated to yet another “blame thrower” media circus, where the security agents and agency responsible would be pointing fingers to cover their own butts, instead of getting the facts and prosecuting, under the weight of the law, the suspect.

    The facts would become muddied, since documents and evidence would be lost, altered, or destroyed, and the case against a “traitor” would be in danger of collapse.

    I am worried about what this implies — since when did we start taking on the paranoid tendencies of those we would call enemies? When did we start using bully tactics against loyal, law abiding citizens trying to do their jobs?

    Don’t take any crap, Cate. Your dad and mine both represented a better America — one where being a law abiding, loyal citizen was not punishable by some misguided paranoid with their own agenda.

  4. Paul, Penn. November 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    I think we should start teaching people that badges represent responsibility, and the authority that comes with it is only to enable them to fulfill it.

    To be fair, most of them know that. The ones who don’t, though….

  5. Tanya, N.Y. November 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    Wow. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Talk about getting carried away. Kudos to Ms. Heneghan for sticking to her guns.

  6. Jim, Tennessee November 24, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

    SMH. I always thought NASA hired smart people. Perhaps not the case in the OPS.

  7. Mikki, Wisconsin November 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    The more they can get away with this, the more likely it is that the McCarthy trials are going to be repeated. Ms. Heneghan has my admiration, but also my condolences for having to deal with this garbage at all.

  8. Jeremy, Virginia November 24, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Apparently the late and unlamented Joe McCarthy is alive and well and working at at NASA’s OPS.

  9. Bonnie, Florida November 24, 2014 at 6:28 pm #

    Tell me, was Lois Lerner’s name attached to any of these questions? Were these people questioned, members of the Tea Party? I have become quite jaded on unequal treatment for different members of our country in the past few years.

    For those wondering, Lois Lerner was the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, and a notable figure in the 2013 IRS scandal. I’ll just say I would consider it unlikely that Cate is a Tea Partier. -rc

  10. Tom, Decatur, IL November 24, 2014 at 7:05 pm #

    As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

  11. Anne, MariposaI November 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm #

    In terms of Cate’s excellent example — re the traffic stop, them asking for your credit card, and you being thrown in jail for refusal to cooperate —

    Sadly, based on too many discussions on too many forums, many citizens of our country would say “Well, if you refuse to cooperate then you should be thrown in jail! who cares if there is no law requiring you to give them a credit card? If you refuse, you are not cooperating and so you are committing a crime, so if they jail you or shoot you, you deserved it!”

    I don’t understand why so many are willing to give up their rights to someone in uniform. I’m glad Cate fought back.

  12. Marty, Odessa TX November 24, 2014 at 7:43 pm #

    Wow! Didn’t think I’d live to see the day the McCarthy watch hunts would be forgotten. I didn’t live them (only 56) but I grew up understanding that it shouldn’t happen again. Maybe having visited Auschwitz had somthing to do with it. But then came 9/11, and so many people willing to give up freedoms for security without responsibility. We humans are so easily duped into handing over power so long as it doesn’t inconvenience us individually. Thank you, Cate, for standing your ground. Thank you for asking the questions. I hope to have that level of personal integrity if faced with the same kind of situation. Maybe we can stop the cycle before it reaches “….there was no one left to speak out for me.” (Martin Niemoeller)

  13. Mark in Oklahoma November 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm #

    I had a similiar situation when I went to work at Okla. State Univ. I had to answer a host of security-patriotism questions and be administered an oath I had to swear to. I asked a couple of the same questions: What if I refuse. I was told I couldn’t work at OSU. Did they think someone bent on spying would answer the questions honestly and be discovered? That question got me special examination from the PTBs.

    Two things of note here: the job I was being hired for was working part-time in the backshop of the press that printed the student newspaper, I was a sophomore in college, majoring in journalism. And I was 19 years old and this was in 1972! The reasoning may have changed but the questions remain the same. I really thought this invasive questioning had gone by the wayside.

  14. Zoe in Canberra November 24, 2014 at 9:24 pm #

    And that is why I’ll never work for NASA.

    With them, sure, do it all the time. We had to interface with a GPS payload from NASA on FedSat, and some of my work’s on the MESSENGER spacecraft. Not NASA, JHUAPL but “close enough for government work”. Literally.

    I have dual citizenship — UK and Australian.

    You have some really good laws and regulations. But no-one ever gets punished for breaking them, if they’re in positions of authority.

    I wouldn’t say “never,” but not often enough. -rc

  15. Valerie, Port Orford, OR November 24, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.

    –attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

    Way to go Cate! Glad you weren’t afraid to speak out!

    Valerie entered this comment before I approved the previous one on the same theme, but I thought I’d leave it to provide the more complete version. -rc

  16. Toba, Montana November 24, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    In the 1950s my older brother was required to sign a loyalty oath before graduating from high school! This happened in NY and he did not think it was appropriate to require anyone to sign a loyalty oath. He had already been admitted to college and was told his high school diploma would be withheld if he refused to sign this paper. He was a minor child at that time. Our dad worked for the Navy Department and had security clearance.

    It is true that the McCarthy era is still alive and well! What a mess our world is in!

    Randy thank you for bringing this kind of stuff to light.

  17. Alexis, California November 24, 2014 at 11:30 pm #

    Usually most or all people go along with abuses of authority if the penalties for questioning them are too high.

    (This question hits home for me because I’ve recently taken an airplane trip, and I’m aware that questioning the legality or authority of a TSA agent’s actions is a good way to get pulled aside for extra questioning until your flight leaves.)

    Kudos to Cate and the French researcher for bringing this unwarranted action to light.

  18. R. Guy, Tennessee November 25, 2014 at 1:25 am #

    This load of bovine excreta reminds me of a form I had to read through, and sign, when I joined the military (US) in 1968. The form was (if I remember correctly) three pages in length, but was a fold out, that contained a listing of groups deemed “Un-American,” and was probably a holdover from the McCarthy era. I did ask what would happen if I did not sign off on it; after all, I was an 18 year old who had just graduated from High School, and was a member of a family who had been investigated up the ying-yang for security clearances by the FBI. I was told that I would be escorted to jail to be held for trial in Federal Court. WTH! I wasn’t even in the Army yet! I guess you could say that I dared them, I refused to sign, wasn’t taken to jail, and was enlisted, all without repercussions.

    Hang in there Cate, and don’t let them feed you their line of patriotism. Their line is paranoia.

  19. Bob, Arizona November 25, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    People ask questions like that because they get away with it. Brava to Cate!

    I once was filling out an information sheet at a temporary employment agency that had posted a job I was hoping to get. It had asked not only if I was married but the date. Also if I had been divorced and the date. Those gave me pause, but the kicker was, “If you have not served in the armed forces of the United States of America, explain why.” At that point I stood up and threw the sheet into the fire and walked out, ignoring the receptionist.

  20. Miguel, Irvine California November 25, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    Is there any place to donate towards the legal expenses of Cate and the others? People should not be saddled with bills for doing the right thing.

    I’m guessing the expenses are pretty low so far, but if that changes, I’ll put the word out. -rc

  21. Laura, VA November 25, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    When I applied for a job in the 1970s as a civilian employee of the Air Force, simply because I was born abroad to US citizen parents and in spite of the fact that I was registered at birth at the local consulate as a US citizen, I had to “prove” my citizenship three separate times to the security personnel before I was finally accepted as a “real” citizen, not to mention that they also managed to lose my original paperwork from the consulate in Bombay. It wasn’t as bad as a loyalty oath, but it makes me wonder how they would have reacted had I decided to apply for dual citizenship. Badly, I suspect.

    “Those who cannot remember the past are consigned to repeat it.” –George Santayana

  22. Bill, Maryland November 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    Are you now or have you ever been a whistle blower?

    Please send my apology to Cate Heneghan for the behavior of our Neo-McCarthyists! Joe was bad enough (Very Bad) but what are these punks up to? And how high up did they have to go to get approval for this?

    Love your starting question! -rc

  23. Mati, Israel November 25, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    @Blue, Renton, WA:

    The worst part is, that the problem isn’t just in NASA. The condition is so severe that even when Israel is defending against terrorists the US expects us to shoot ourselves in the foot, and when we try passing a law (on par with an amendment to the US constitution) making it official that Israel is a Jewish state, the US government (which seems to be in the middle of going against the will of the majority) lectures us on the meaning of democracy….

  24. Lon, Calif. November 25, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    As I once quoted when the Patriot Act (and isn’t *that* a misnomer?) was passed: “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither.” –Benjamin Franklin.

    Thank you, Cate — and you, Randy — for helping us to preserve some of those freedoms.

  25. Paul, Western Australia November 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Kate of Washington mentioned the ‘sheep mentality’. I have never understood it either although I have experienced it my entire working life. Why people will let others run roughshod over their rights and dignity is beyond my comprehension. I have spent most of my life ‘swimming upstream’, if something is wrong and you know it have the guts to stand on your hind legs and say so.

    Good on you Cate, we may get lonely but we are the true “one percenters”.

    Thank you Randy for This is True. I think I should pay up now and stop living on the free edition.

    I appreciate your support, Paul! -rc

  26. Pax, Sunland CA November 29, 2014 at 1:22 am #

    A typical example of “zero tolerance” applied by bureaucrats, who don’t have the inclination, nor the ability to use common sense.

    I’m surprised, however, to see this demonstration of pure block-headedness in an institution generally re-known for its devotion to rationality! …(and they’re only 13 miles from me….).

  27. butch / Texas November 29, 2014 at 2:16 am #

    Wow what a story. You have the beginnings of a Clive Cussler novel.

  28. Tom from the Carolinas November 29, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    An old saying by now, but true: If this continues, the terrorists win.

    I have often thought that, if they were talking about it at the end of 2001, “what would we terrorists like to have happen?”, they would talk about a United States split evenly against itself, and having U.S. citizens begin to truly fear their own government, and seeing that the brightest minds working for the U.S. would begin to be hounded as the country begins to succumb to a deep fear. They might like to see all that makes the U.S. as wonderful as it, all that get deep-sixed as the U.S. tried to protect itself.

  29. Cheryl, NY November 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    I like your friend Cate, and her father. My kind of people! I give them both a lot of credit for staying strong under immense pressure and sticking to what they believe in. They’re the kind of people every country needs, and I’m glad they both chose America. Can we clone Cate a few times and use the clones to replace some politicians in Washington?

    Since 9/11, the U.S. has become a country of people who follow Leader, afraid to speak up and speak out. We self-censor and live in fear.

    Valerie in OR: I’ve seen that attributed to Dietrich Bonhoffer. Whoever wrote it, I don’t think there’s ever a time it isn’t relevant.

    The quotation is quite well attributed — to Niemöller. You can read an extensive article about it on Wikipedia. -rc

  30. Ernest, Urana, NSW, Australia November 30, 2014 at 3:24 am #

    The sadest part of this is: this type of behaviour by the security staff has probably gone unchallenged elsewhere for some years.

    I wonder how they’d go if the security people had someone who refused to answer the questions and got blocked from working, and then management find out the person involved is the project leader and the only one who has a clear understanding of what’s going on and it just cost them millions because he wasn’t at work. Who would they blame then?

    “Terrorists.” -rc

  31. Lynn, Farmington, Utah November 30, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    I work for the U.S. Postal Service, and whenever a customer brings in a parcel to be mailed, Homeland Security requires us to ask, among other things, if there is anything potentially hazardous. Usually, the customer just says no and leaves it at that, but occasionally, they will tell me what’s in the package, then laugh at the mere suggestion that it could be hazardous. I have a game I play with myself though, and that is to come up with a nefarious purpose for the contents. Because in reality, ANYTHING can be “potentially” hazardous. A woman came in to mail a package, and I asked her the question. She laughed, and said it was just yarn for her daughter. “There’s no way that could be hazardous!”, she said. “Oh, I don’t know,” I replied, “You could crochet a hangman’s noose.”

    You’re right, of course, which proves how silly the question is. -rc

  32. Tom in California November 30, 2014 at 4:53 pm #

    In mid-2012, when the security intrusions first came to a head at JPL, several of us registered our outrage by leaving JPL, warning that those abuses, if unchecked, would likely lead to even more abuse. Cate’s case verifies that those fears were warranted.

  33. Bill, Canada November 30, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    This problem is not limited to the USA. It is like a snowball that starts at the top of a hill and grows as it speeds to the bottom where it explodes after hitting something bigger and stronger. Unfortunately there is a lot of innocent collateral carnage left in its wake.

  34. H in OH December 2, 2014 at 10:25 am #

    Once again, a bureaucrat with a mandate to do something chooses to do something thought to be simple instead of doing something right. It looks like someone in the Office of Protective Services was simply too lazy to come up with his/her own security procedure and instead, very inappropriately, took questions and/or procedure from a much MUCH higher level security screening. There is a level of special-top-secret military clearance at which it is appropriate to ask if one might have sympathies toward another country and if one would inappropriately help that country or do as ordered to act against that country, even if the chances of it realistically happening were next to zero. It is obvious Cate’s job does not qualify for such a clearance level. Also, EVERYONE with the same clearance level should be asked the same questions.

    Is it time for a crowd to start singing “Alice’s Restaurant” when the adjudicators come by?

  35. Patty December 3, 2014 at 2:03 am #

    I’m non-plussed. Ireland is after our space secrets? Who knew?

  36. Roy NC December 9, 2014 at 12:44 am #

    “Ireland is after our space secrets? Who knew?”

    Maybe Bushmills wants to try vacuum distillation.

    As noted above though it would appear that some higher level questions were used and very little thought was given. Like most GS jobs.

  37. Toba, from MT December 10, 2014 at 12:50 am #

    I am dismayed that people are commenting that most GS employees are less that honest, capable, hardworking, intelligent, etc.

    I worked for the feds and most people I encountered did a good job, some a much better than a good job, and some an outstanding job. I resent the comment, “Good enough for government work”. That is slamming a lot of people and is a generality that is really not a fair one.

    Yes, there are bad apples in every barrel, in every walk of life, in every company, whether state, federal, private, etc. But they are the exception and not the rule and the people the news picks up on. Generalities about an entire group is showing your prejudice and not really thinking seriously about the reality. For every “bad apple” story that gets picked up in the press there are maybe 100 stories that could be written about the good job someone did, but these stories are not newsworthy.

  38. Lynne, WI February 13, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

    “I once was filling out an information sheet at a temporary employment agency that had posted a job I was hoping to get. It had asked not only if I was married but the date. Also if I had been divorced and the date. Those gave me pause, but the kicker was, “If you have not served in the armed forces of the United States of America, explain why.””

    All of those questions are completely illegal for anything employment-related. Should have saved the paper & gone to the EEOC, get the company in hot water.

    A couple jobs I’ve applied for have used a personality test! Also not job-related, also illegal (because they use it to discriminate against people with mental illness).

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