posted on Jun, 27 2011 @ 11:48 AM
I can't speak for the clearance process in the UK but as someone who has a clearance via the US government I may be able to shed some light on the
process we use here which may explain some things.
I haven't read through your entire thread (i.e. the replies) so some of this may be already covered.
When we (in the US) apply for a clearance, specifically a Top Secret clearance, you must list all your former employers, residences, etc... You must
also list a specific set of family members. It is assumed that you will have had a lot of contact with these individuals (even though some
circumstances may prove otherwise, such as your mom getting remarried long after you left the household) so the government figures better safe than
Obviously your parents are the top of the list, followed,in no particular order, by siblings, grandparents, step-parents and step-siblings, aunts,
uncles, your children/step-children, spouse(s) and in-laws.
The info they want on family members is address (to confirm your statements, if your parents don't live where you say they live then what else are
you lying about right?) and their citizenship status. Many programs are extremely "sensitive" so if your mother was a Chinese citizen you probably
wouldn't be allowed to work on intelligence projects related to China as there would be a conflict of interest (possibly).
As for your guy's girlfriend, normally (in the US) they only want to know wife/fiance but if she is considered a "live-in" girlfriend they would
possibly consider that in the same vein. They want to know who lives in your household and who you have and "extended" relationship with. Just
because your family is all-American, apple pie, etc... doesn't mean your college roommate who you are still good friends with and live together
isn't an agent for an enemy nation. If two conservative religious zealots can have a child who is a liberal atheist hippy tree hugger why can't an
average patriotic family have a spy or turncoat for a child?
As for how they found out about her I'd bet it's safe to assume that in the process of their investigation they interviewed family members who
"tattled"...lol When they investigate you they interview friends, family, co-workers they ask them all manners of questions about you. "is (XXX)
trustworthy?" "do you have any doubts about (XXX)'s ability to do this job?" etc... one of the question would no doubt be about your other
acquaintances and I guarantee that your friend's brother, sister, mom, etc.. spilled the beans about the wonderful relationship he has with (insert
girlfriend's name here).
In the US we have to disclose anyone we've been dating for a certain period of time (if it looks like it could be serious...i.e. the "one"
especially) or any foreigners we may be friends with. It's only to make sure that (so and so) isn't a known agent of another government just trying
to be friends with you in hopes of getting you to spill some secrets. In the fantasy we call the real world a little snippet of information may not
seem like a big deal. In the shadowy underbelly of reality we call the intel world a small bit of info can be a big deal.
Think of it as a puzzle. You have a mess of pieces jumbled in a box. The box doesn't have a picture to go by but it has a phrase printed on it.
Let's say the phrase is "warship operations in the Gulf of Arabia....puzzle made in the UK". That doesn't tell you a whole lot. But, if I have one
piece of info from you, say the HMS Umptysquat is leaving port tomorrow. And I have a piece from a Royal Navy officer I met at a pub that serves on
the "Might Umpty" that says he'll be away from home for 6 months. And I have another piece of info from Wikipedia that says the average wartime
ship deployment for the Royal Navy is 6 months it's safe to assume that my puzzle is the HMS Umptysquat is deploying for 6 months. So we have the
corner of the puzzle finished. I have on good account that the HMS BigOleShip is in the Gulf of Arabia and has been there for about 5 and a half
months. Again according to wikipedia the B.O.S. is the same type of ship as the mighty Umpty and no other ships of that type are scheduled to leave
port anytime soon. So, I can safely assess that it is "highly probable" that the Umpty is going to replace the BOS within the next month or so.
Now in the Royal Navy HQ that fact is totally secret but by just paying attention to everything I have heard and found out I know that one ship is
replacing the other in an area I am interested in. I now know something that the UK government decided is secret.
Ok, that's a long way about to explain why they might have been a little miffed that your friend didn't mention his girlfriend during his
investigation but that's probably why. Especially since your friend (as much as I can gather from your OP) is working on a specific project in a
sterile environment with high security measures in place it would be easy to gather some info if I were his girlfriend (which would be odd since I'm
a dude...lol). It's easier to gather from a stationary target than a target with a ton of moving features (or should that be tonne?) like naval
If your friend worked on a secret project (point 1) at RAF Alconbury (point 2, for arguments sake since I don't know any secret bases in the UK) and
(again for arguments sake let's say that...) I know RAF Alconbury is the bio-warfare laboratory for the Defence Ministry. Now I know that your friend
is probably working on a bio-warfare project most likely. When he come's home and tells me (or his girlfriend actually) that he had to go to medical
to get a vaccine against the flu, and it's not flu season, then I can reasonably assume that he's working on some genetically modified flu-like
virus project. Now, if his girlfriend is just a regular girl (by regular I mean not a spy and not a biology major at university) she's probably just
going to yawn and think "whatever". But, if your guy's girl is a spy she'll be able to infer what I did (based on this totally arbitrary chain)
and would want to know more.
So, that's why they want to know who she is and who her family members are. Remember, a good spy doesn't even know he/she's a spy. Her dad could be
the head of external operations for the Iranian military and his daughter may not even know it. So, when she's gabbing gossip with her sister or
mother and then mom tells dad about the conversation she had with their daughter, little suzie-q, dad now knows more than the average person.
The bad thing is that the puzzle we were hypothetically making is a story in itself but this particular puzzle is actually just one piece in an even
bigger puzzle. So, it may not seem like a big deal that "ok, so they know he's a research biologist for a military warfare lab" but that, along
with other puzzles combined into this "super-puzzle" can tell a (not-so) friendly nation a lot about the UK's military-industrial complex and
possible operational capabilities.
Ok, now the short version. "Trust but Verify". I know its cliche', but when you're dealing with life and death on the same scale that a nation is
dealing with it's better to know for sure (to the best of your ability without being Fascist) that your friend's sexual partner (I assume) is not a
spy than to ignore her while she rifles through your secret documents file.
Many a secret has been slipped during "pillow talk". Ask the Nazi's, that's how they got most of their intel during the war.
Sorry for the long post! It's a simplified version of events so let me know if I can clarify anything!