What does ‘eligible for security clearance’ mean?

A security clearance is a status granted to individuals allowing them access to classified information (state or organizational secrets) or to restricted areas, after completion of a thorough background check.

There is a critical distinction that often is misunderstood—even by individuals who have worked in the cleared community for decades—between “access” and “eligibility for access” to classified information.

When an individual is granted a security clearance, all that means is that that person has been favorably adjudicated and is “eligible for access” to classified information at a particular level (whether confidential, secret or top secret). That eligibility remains valid for a certain number of years depending on the level of classification for which the individual was favorably adjudicated (for example, a secret-level clearance is valid for 10 years).

Access, in and of itself, is the subsequent step taken by the agency to provide the cleared individual with the means by which to use classified email accounts, utilize classified databases and work in a classified office space. When, for example, Former FBI Director James Comey was fired, his “access” was immediately cut off. He was “debriefed” from any compartmentalized programs to which he had been accessed, his credentials were taken away and he probably signed several “briefing acknowledgment” forms confirming that he had been debriefed.

> Read entire article Can the President Revoke Former Officials’ Security Clearances? | Bradley P. Moss | LawFare

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