Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Classification Markings

Executive Order 12958 delivers guidelines assigning classifications to objects and information. When it comes to classifying information, the intent is to provide proper safeguarding to prevent unauthorized disclosure, loss or compromise and keep the amount of classified information to the minimum. Items are classified to direct the appropriate amount of protection necessary. Before an Original Classification Authority (OCA) can designate that a document needs protection at the TOP SECRET, SECRET or CONFIDENTIAL level, the following qualifications are to be met. In cases where items may be assigned an original classification, four conditions must be met.
1. An original classification authority is applying the
classification level
2. The U.S. Government owns, is producing, or is controlling the
3. Information meets one of eight categories
4. 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.
Information that has been given an original classification is owned by, produced for and in control of the U.S. Government. Those who assume responsibilities as original classification authority are appointed in writing. They are trained, cleared to the level of classification assigned, and know the limits of classification as shown in Figure 5-. The information they determine to be classified is marked properly and given the level of protection indicated and required by the classification markings.
Marking classified material is a part of an implied task of receiving classified material either delivered to or created within the facility. As in the previous chapter, classified information received has to be checked against a receipt or inventory, inspected for proper identification and marking and brought into accountability. If the delivered classified information has marking discrepancies, the receiver has to rectify the situation by either sending back to the sender, or fixing the mistake themselves. When classified information has been created as a result of original classification, compilation (derivative information) or reproduction notifications are applied. Classification markings are those notifications or indications strategically placed in certain areas of an item.
Markings have the primary role of calling attention to the fact that an item is classified and the special safeguarding necessary to protect the classified material. In many cases, not every part of the item is classified, but because the components (parts, pages, pieces,etc.) make up a whole, the entire item must be protected. However, if sections are meant to be removed, then they can be protected at different levels. For example if a document is classified at the SECRET level, the entire document must be protected as SECRET. However, if an appendix is labeled "UNCLASSIFIED" and is meant to be removed, then that part does not need to be protected as SECRET (more is covered later under "Components").
Identifying documents with the "TOP SECRET","SECRET", and "CONFIDENTIAL" labels provides the warning of special handling and protection. Specifically, items are designated with certain markings that serve to warn and inform a user that an item is indeed classified or sensitive. The bearer of the classified information has certain responsibilities to protect the classified material from loss or compromise.
Suppose an engineer of XYZ Contractor goes to the company's centralized document storage area and signs out a document classified as SECRET. According to company policy he or she is to return the item to document control prior to the end of the work day, or when they need to leave the office. Their company policy also permits the cleared employees to review classified material as long as the door is closed.
After a while his eyes get tired and he grabs his day planner to check his schedule. He is reminded of an upcoming meeting with the social committee and begins to reflect on the near term company picnic. He rises and walks to the window to look at proposed picnic location. While gathering his thoughts, he hears a knock at the door and automatically walks to open it. As he passes his desk his eyes glance at the document's markings of "SECRET" on the top and bottom of the opened pages. He then closes the classified book and picks it up. With the book closed and firmly secure in his hands he opens the door and sees his buddy from across the hall.
They both are working on two different contracts therefore his buddy has no need to know of the contents of the book.
"Let's get some lunch," his friend says in invitation.
"Sure, follow me to security and I'll get this locked up," the engineer replies.
The markings served to remind the possessor of the classified information on their desk and to ensure that they maintained proper control and accountability. The marking also reminded the owner that they were responsible for ensuring another person had a clearance and the "need to know" the classified information contained in the document.

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