Saturday, October 4, 2008

Those warning labels

I am currently working on Chapter Five of my new book, "Managing the Security of Classified Information and Contracts". Chapter Five reviews the Executive Orders and regulations relating to Classification Markings and there is some good information from all sources.

I believe this good information is fundamental to the profession of Intelligence and Security Officers. Understanding why and how information is classified is vital to knowing exactly what to protect and how. There are a few hard and fast rules for classifying information. In cases where items may be assigned an original classification, four conditions must be met.
• An original classification authority is applying the classification level
• The U.S. Government owns, is producing, or is controlling the information
• Information meets one of eight categories
• The Original Classification Authority determines unauthorized disclosure could cause damage to national security to include transnational terrorism and they can identify or describe the damage.

There are also critical reasons for assigning classification markings. Classification markings are applied to information for the following reasons. Classification markings:
• Warn and inform a user that an item is indeed classified or sensitive
• Conveys what exactly needs protection
• Identifies levels of classification or sensitivity assigned to the information
• Provides vital information and instruction on when to downgrade or declassify the material
• Gives sources and reason for classifying the item
• Warns of special access, control, dissemination or safeguarding requirements
Classification markings can be found on the top and bottom, front and back of classified items. Markings are also found in internal pages, paragraphs and other locations inside documents, books, manuals and other paper based products.

While with my last employer, I had a few responsiblilies which included: Facility Security Officer, Exports Compliance Officer, and Saftey Manager. These roles were incredibly inter-related and a lot of cross skills came into play. However, there was one thing in common; each position had its own inherent set of "classification markings". For example, as safety manager I supervised the hazardous communication process. Just as classified material must be marked properly and have a security classification guide and DD Form 254 to warn what is classified and how to protect it, HAZMAT has warning labels as well as MSDS's to warn the users what is hazardous and how to work with it.

Classified markings are fundamental to how we protect classified material. Markings should be checked when classified information is introduced in to a contractor facility as well as when the contractor reproduces, creates or derives a new item from another classified source.

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