“As Necessary”

Recall the kerfuffle over whether senior government officials—an ex-CIA Director, for instance—should have their security clearances continued when they leave government services.  As Sean Bigley put it in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed,

The idea was that senior administration officials should be allowed to retain their security clearances after leaving government so they could consult with successors as necessary.

Bigley suggested that this particular rationale even “makes sense for a brief, defined period.”

He’s overstating the case, though.  “As necessary” doesn’t justify an automatic continuance of a clearance that’s no longer automatically needed, nor does “as necessary” come close to representing a continued need to know that is a Critical Item in granting clearances.

All government personnel, regardless of rank, should lose completely their security clearances as soon as they leave government service.  “As necessary” is not continuous; it’s case-by-case.  Post-government service clearances should be granted on that case-by-case basis and no other.

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