The HMA Public Relations team is often called upon to work on confidential issues. It’s routine for us to sign non-disclosure agreements or other documentation requiring confidentiality. We even have a confidentiality agreement in our own contracts.
That reminded me of some 30 years ago when my brother, who was working for a large government contractor at the time, was applying for top secret military clearance. He was working on some leading- edge radio systems or something.
His background checkers left no stone unturned. Investigators visited the neighbors of our parents to find out what kind of a kid he was growing up. They talked to his high school teachers and coaches. They interviewed his coworkers. They talked to me. It seemed like they wanted to have a conversation with anyone he’d ever been in contact with! Of course, he received top secret security clearance.
That was nothing.
I was talking recently to a somewhat nondescript, yet delightful man. I inquired about his career. Little did I know I’d only get to know a sliver of the story. His early career was spent in the U.S. Army working in the White House in the mid ‘60s. You can imagine the scrutiny his background was subjected to – because he was one of only five people in the world to know the information he knew! Two of the others were the President of the United States and the Premier of the Soviet Union. When his military service was over, the U.S. government told him he wouldn’t even be eligible for a passport for 10 years. He has since had a lengthy career in the private sector.
These stories reminded me that you should always do the right thing – especially when you don’t think anybody is watching, because they just might be.