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Re: "S1" encryption system (was: this looked like it might

> On a fair number of occassions I have been told that federal type folks
> have made statements to the effect that there is no such thing as a "TOP
> SECRET" classification of US government docs. Since really secret things
> tend to get neither confirmed nor denied, I am inclined to believe this.
> Thus SECRET is the top classification in today's government/military. If
> anybody knows otherwise I would be interested in the information.

Well, I held an active SECRET clearance until last November. This is 
how I remember it.

There are three basic levels of classification - 
Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. There are many sub-categories,
such as FOUO (For Official Use Only), NOFORN (no foreigners), COMSEC
(Communications Security) etc. Within TS, data may be placed in 
'compartments', the names of which may themselves be classified, and 
separate clearance is needed for each compartment. 

Orthoganal to that is the existance of three separate agencies which
provide clearance - the Department of Energy, the Department of 
Defense, and the NSA. If you had a DoD clearance, that did not cut 
much ice with the spooks - you needed to have a separate 
investigation to their standards (though the actual groundpounding and 
investigation was done by the same organization for all three).

Finally, there was 'need to know'. It didn't matter if you had a Tippy
Toppest Secret clearance, signed by the directors of the NRO, NSA, 
and DoE; if there was a piece of classified information which was not
relevant to your work, you didn't get it. (One of the problems with 
the system is that this leads to a lot of duplicated effort).

While I did not get to see Top Secret data (and in fact, avoided 
classified projects whenever possible), TS was a very real 
classification level at least until late last year. The only 
explanation I can think of for your claim above is that most TS data is 
not simply 'TS'; it usually has various endorsments, such as 
which compartment it's in. 

Peter Trei