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. This type of mishandling case results from a willful and knowing disregard of security regulations by the accused. In these cases, the accused is well aware of the requirements of the regulations, but chooses to ignore them because he did not want to be subject to such constraints. This type of case is often characterized as a “self-help” case. The most common types of self-help cases are:
“I needed to cut a few corners in order to get the mission accomplished!”
This excuse is most commonly used by those who view the classification regulations as impediments to their ability to do their jobs effectively or efficiently. A common scenario is taking classified information from one job to the next, but doing so by improperly copying information to CDs, thumb drives, and personal laptops. It is very possible to accomplish the same end using the security regulations (see Chapter 2 on transportation and transmission of classified information), but rather than do so, the individual takes the easy way out and knowingly violates the regulations.
“Everyone knew this report was not properly classified as Secret so I went ahead and took off the markings.”
This excuse is not seen in courts-martial as often as the others are, but the first part of the statement is a common sentiment in many intelligence circles. Most of those who work in the field, however, understand that just because something has been published by the media does not mean it is no longer classified. Information remains classified until it is formally declassified by proper authority.
While compelling, and often creative, such excuses rarely amount to a legal defense or justification to dereliction of duty or orders violation charges, but may be persuasive as to forum or disposition. Especially when the use was designed by the accused to benefit the Navy, such excuses are often used in the defense extenuation and mitigation case. Additionally, a self-help case on a battlefield, e.g., sharing classified information with a coalition partner that does not have the appropriate clearance, could contain significant facts to support a relatively lenient command response.