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Amazon Hiring More Than a 100 Who Can Get Top Secret Clearances 213

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-have-clearance-clarence dept.
dcblogs writes "Amazon has more than 100 job openings for people who can get a top secret clearance, which includes a U.S. government administered polygraph examination. It needs software developers, operations managers and cloud support engineers, among others. Amazon's hiring effort includes an invitation-only recruiting event for systems support engineers at its Herndon, Va., facility on Sept. 24 and 25. Amazon is fighting to win a contract to build a private cloud for the CIA. The project is being rebid after IBM filed a protest. In a recent federal lawsuit challenging the rebid, Amazon took a shot at IBM, describing the company as 'a traditional fixed IT infrastructure provider and late entrant to the cloud computing market.' Among the things IBM says in response, is that the government didn't look at Amazon's outage record. An analyst firm, Ptak Noel & Associates, concluded, in a report about the dispute, that CIA officials 'too casually brush off Amazon's outages' in evaluating the proposals."
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Amazon Hiring More Than a 100 Who Can Get Top Secret Clearances

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  • Decent. (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:40PM (#44761883)

    "Amazon has more than 100 job openings for people who can get a top secret clearance, which includes a U.S. government administered polygraph examination."

    That's very decent of them, after having sold them all those 'How to beat the polygraph test' books.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      In socialist Brazil the secrets of the Amazon are explored by YOU!

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      ...here's an interesting though however: how the fuck are they getting the contract when they don't even have the guys to do it? someone giving them the free reign to skim federal money? why? why doesn't CIA/NSA inhouse it?

      (and polygraphs a joke)

      • by tnk1 (899206)

        Many projects are understood to happen over a certain timeline, in that timeline you would spend a lot of time architecting the solution as well as negotiating what detailed features are in scope with the government, getting extra facility space, etc. There is also the understanding that you may need to hire more staff in the timeline. In either case, you probably don't need those 100 jobs until later in the project anyway, so you hire them after you have a contract.

        As for in-housing... they could, but on

  • Good thing I'm a notorious shifty-eyed weasel or I'd be inclined to join them in whatever their shenanigans are likely to be. Think they're about to pick up outsourcing of the NSA?

    I think SO.

    • by tnk1 (899206)

      Since outsourcing the NSA seems to be what got them in trouble to begin with, I am not sure they are liable to outsource it further.

      Of course contractors are going nowhere at the NSA. Actual government employees are a pain in the ass to hire, pay, and deal with. Not to mention that once they are in place, they're pretty much able to sit there for life, even with poor performance. Contractors are easier to hire, easier to pay, and while they still could be low quality losers, it is a lot easier to get rid

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:44PM (#44761913)

    Basic englishs, you has grasps of its?

  • A patheic thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by oldhack (1037484) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:45PM (#44761921)

    Finally a project that will hire some Americans.

    Yeah, it's pretty sad.

    • by gatkinso (15975) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:51PM (#44761951)

      Why do you think clearances are so sought after?

      1) no H-1B's
      2) relatively few youngsters

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Trepidity (597)

        On #2, even fewer competent youngsters. Not even the CIA wants to hire your average ideological College Young Republicans member.

      • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:57PM (#44762307)

        Why do you think clearances are so sought after?

        {...} 2) relatively few youngsters

        Then again ...

        I had a security clearance in the military. All it meant was basically that I hadn't been caught doing anything illegal, and that I wasn't old enough to have had to file bankruptcy because of family medical emergencies and mortgages. Nor was I old enough to have pissed off any neighbors enough for them to bad mouth me :)

        Being young can be an advantage for security clearances ...

        • Re:A patheic thought (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @10:26PM (#44762753)

          I had a security clearance in the military. All it meant was basically that I hadn't been caught doing anything illegal, and that I wasn't old enough to have had to file bankruptcy because of family medical emergencies and mortgages. Nor was I old enough to have pissed off any neighbors enough for them to bad mouth me :)

          Being young can be an advantage for security clearances ...

          Almost certainly the type you had was a Secret clearance.

          Today more than ever, TOP Secret clearances are not only hard to get, they are hard to keep.

          If the clearance you had didn't involve am anal probe an deep deep investigation that involved actually physically talking to many of your friends, neighbors, and college buddies, you didn't have a TOP Secret, you had only a Secret, which almost anyone can get.

          • by gatkinso (15975)

            Probably not - military is a great place for a younger person to get cleared. Also, the maturity level of a young worker who is former military is generally about a million times higher than that of a civilian.

          • by gl4ss (559668)

            if it's so fucking secret why the fuck do they announce that the guy is going to work on such things to everyone the guy ever had a chat with?

            do they also do signature analysis and voodoo? because what you just described was just a method for accepting or failing someone based purely on feel you get from talking to people who know him(the non feel, concrete, part is the part of not having been caught of anything).

        • Why do you think clearances are so sought after?

          {...}
          2) relatively few youngsters

          Then again ...

          I had a security clearance in the military. All it meant was basically that I hadn't been caught doing anything illegal, and that I wasn't old enough to have had to file bankruptcy because of family medical emergencies and mortgages. Nor was I old enough to have pissed off any neighbors enough for them to bad mouth me :)

          Being young can be an advantage for security clearances ...

          I agree, being young has many advantages as opposed to being out of school and on your on for any length of time.

          Many years ago my job required a Q clearance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_clearance [wikipedia.org] (civilian equivalent of top secret with access to
          nuclear material) as did everyone that worked there. While the plant had it's older operators it was a young group, many just out of high school
          and their first job, managers still in their 20's.

          I on the other hand had been around the block and had a history, it t

        • I had a security clearance in the military. All it meant was basically that I hadn't been caught doing anything illegal, and that I wasn't old enough to have had to file bankruptcy because of family medical emergencies and mortgages. Nor was I old enough to have pissed off any neighbors enough for them to bad mouth me :)

          You didn't have top secret, then. My clearance when I was in military signals took 2 years to come through, and meant that not only wasn't I a risk, nobody in my immediate family or circle of friends was a risk either. They actually delayed giving me clearance because one of my idiot friends in high school joined the Communist party when he was in University. (and I graduated high school in 2000).

      • by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:50PM (#44762563)

        Many military jobs require TS special clearances and those are given to 18/19 year old people. It's actually a benefit to get them that young, since they are still duped by propaganda and have yet to see the illusions being painted by main stream media.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        Re few youngsters
        They would understand how to sockpuppet, be up with slag, the culture, spelling, music, tech and faith.
        They would also have been bought up in a world at war and could be more ideologically hardened with less of that early 1990's base closure/very early dot com days emotional baggage.
        Then you have the math and CS elite, nurtured in top US universities - who know the role and wealth their parents enjoyed or are climbing out of poverty.
        The dual citizenship question has issues too - too m
    • by whydavid (2593831)

      Yep, it's the old "fool me once, shame on you, ..."

      The federal government is done with all of these foreign nationals running around spilling our state secrets to the whole world.

      Oh wait, those were American citizens with security clearance? My bad.

  • whores (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:46PM (#44761927)

    have dignity compared to the people who work in this field.

    • Quid pro quo (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And the quid pro quo of these deals is Amazon handing over the purchasers data to NSA.

      So whether you buy a political book and can be flagged as politically active and worth monitoring, or you buy an environment book and can be flagged as 'eco terrorist potential candidate', all of that goes into the Stasibase.

      I was told by a contractor working for Sammy, Samsung is going to cancel their EC2 cloud contract to avoid legal liability in some countries, their phones connect to Amazon and their backend is done on

  • Don't be evil? (Score:2, Insightful)

    I guess they didn't even think about having that as a slogan. As an engineer you can work to make the world a better place or a worse place. This is a choice that is actively made. Here are 100 people who aren't going to make the right choice. I feel bad for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sorry, that is Google's slogan. I believe Amazon's is "Don't pay taxes."

  • FFS. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by petteyg359 (1847514) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:48PM (#44761935)

    Good: A hundred.
    Good: One hundred.
    Bad: A one hundred.
    Bad: A 100.

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      100 can mean two phrases "one hundred" or "hundred". The sentence is only bad if it is written as "a one hundred" not "a hundred".

      • No, it cannot. 100 is "one hundred", nothing more, nothing less. It already has the article "one", and adding another article "a" is wrong. Anyone who does so is either a non-native speaker who is not yet fluent, a child in elementary school who sure as heck didn't write the headline here, or an idiot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:51PM (#44761945)

    Private buyers are voting with their feet. They grumble about AWS but you don't see them flocking to IBM. The features, the rate of advancement and general ambition to build everything that could be useful, and the smooth automation and general competence of the whole thing outweighs their screwups.

    (Which almost all seem to result from a datacenter-wide SAN and a lot of people in us-east-1. Wonder if they're regretting either the reliance on EBS or the concentration in one Region.)

    And, yes, they had highly publicized region outages, but if you really need a lot of nines, you put boxes in multiple regions anyway.

    • After having to use cognos and some other IBM products, I don't want anything to do with them

      Over priced
      Crappy documentation
      Crappy install and config process that seems to break for no reason
      Mysterious config changes you need to make to get it running that aren't documented anywhere

      Ill take me SQL server over cognos any day

  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @07:56PM (#44761981)
    If Amazon wins the bid will there be a product page where CIA employees can rate the service like we do when we buy a toaster? "Five Stars. Amazon helped our CIA division keep our constitutional-violating secrets away from an unsuspecting American public. I even got to get back at that NSA guy who spied on my hot girlfriend's text messages. That take George!"
    • True story: I briefly worked in the Bid Dept of a large computers & parts catalogue company during the mid 90's and I remember a bid request from the CIA for something like this:

      340 PC workstations each including the following:

      15" Trinitron monitors

      16MB ram

      320MB hard drive

      1.44MB 3.5" floppy drive

      MS-DOS 6.22

      Windows for Workgroups 3.11

      Spectre VR

  • Of all of the things involved in securing top-secret clearance, I'm willing to be the polygraph is the least invasive. Interesting that it would be the only one called out by name.

    • You mean not having the government document your life for the last 20 years is not invasive?

      • I hate to break the bad news but the government has been documenting you long before the Internet existed. Birth Certificates, SSN, school records at every level, marriage licenses, car registrations, insurance records, credit history, income taxes, employment history, and private property registrations are some of the more common. And now people are freaking out about the government getting your call meta data (basically your phone bill with no bill amounts) and possibly but unlikely reading the contents o

        • by alen (225700) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:54PM (#44762289)

          that's nothing compared what is involved in getting a TS clearance if you don't know

          people i've known said they investigate you at least 15 years back. find all your friends, find lost friends, interview them. people in their 20's said the government talked to all their teachers, neighbors, everyone they ever knew in their life

          • Your friends have been bullshitting you. The investigation for TS is not nearly that invasive. It would be prohibitively expensive if it was. There about 4 million people who hold a TS.

            Mostly they are looking for evidence that you are unreliable, prone to criminal behavior or are subject to blackmail.

            For a Secret investigation they don't even interview. Just check your records.

            It's only when they go to SCI etc. that they get picky.

            • by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @09:59PM (#44762603)

              You are speculating incorrectly. I held a special clearance and they went back and talked to elementary school teachers, old friends, etc... If they come up with concerns, they dig further than they did with me.

              The 4 million number includes people that have held a clearance for decades. Renewals do not take much investigation.

              In other words, if it was 4million new investigations it would be cost prohibitive. It's not, so don't make up stories.

              • by elucido (870205)

                You are speculating incorrectly. I held a special clearance and they went back and talked to elementary school teachers, old friends, etc... If they come up with concerns, they dig further than they did with me.

                The 4 million number includes people that have held a clearance for decades. Renewals do not take much investigation.

                In other words, if it was 4million new investigations it would be cost prohibitive. It's not, so don't make up stories.

                What difference does it make if they look at your files and interview people? It's just a job. Either you want the job or you don't. If they want to look into your life they can do that whether its a security clearance investigation or not, so I don't see the big deal. I suppose the only big deal would be what do you tell your friends and family when they go to you telling you the government questioned them about you.

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  I suppose the only big deal would be what do you tell your friends and family when they go to you telling you the government questioned them about you.

                  It's a big deal when we spend all this money to keep secrets from our own citizenry.

              • You are speculating incorrectly. I held a special clearance and they went back and talked to elementary school teachers, old friends, etc... If they come up with concerns, they dig further than they did with me.

                What do you mean by "special clearance" though? For an SSBI they aren't going to go back and talk to elementary school teachers because there would be no point in doing that unless you knew those same teachers when you were older. When they do an SSBI for military personnel that are fresh out of high school they don't go back and talk to elementary school teachers unless they knew the subject in the recent past since someones opinion of a child is unlikely to give any indication as to their trustworthiness

            • by elucido (870205)

              Your friends have been bullshitting you. The investigation for TS is not nearly that invasive. It would be prohibitively expensive if it was. There about 4 million people who hold a TS.

              Mostly they are looking for evidence that you are unreliable, prone to criminal behavior or are subject to blackmail.

              For a Secret investigation they don't even interview. Just check your records.

              It's only when they go to SCI etc. that they get picky.

              At this point they can already look anyone up for any reason so why fear a security clearance?
              The main problem with a security clearance is that it's a pain in the ass to keep it and its more responsibility.

              Why would anyone want to choose a job which requires more of you for the same or even for less pay?

              • I've seen federal contractors job postings for some positions that say, "Security Clearance Required, no experience necessary" with a giant starting salary because they really don't want to pay for clearances.
          • by AHuxley (892839)
            Yes if the gov did not interview your extended family and friends... teachers, neighbours - your clearance was done (post 911) by a contractor, mostly state/federal searches on a computer, ie if its not networked it was never really uncovered. The US gov has really created huge security mess long term.
            People the gov will not really know are moving up in the cleared systems and networks with totally unknown pasts eg the really basic stuff of state sealed youth court issues, school, personality...
            What the
            • by elucido (870205)

              Yes if the gov did not interview your extended family and friends... teachers, neighbours - your clearance was done (post 911) by a contractor, mostly state/federal searches on a computer, ie if its not networked it was never really uncovered. The US gov has really created huge security mess long term.

              People the gov will not really know are moving up in the cleared systems and networks with totally unknown pasts eg the really basic stuff of state sealed youth court issues, school, personality...

              What the US missed in its hast, the Russians will find over time.- offering cash or exposure or understanding.

              I'm guessing you don't know what you're talking about. Everything is on computer networks now. The computer network knows more about you than your friends, your family, it knows more about you than you know about yourself thanks to the capabilities of big data. There is less reason to do intrusive interviews with friends and family.

              Also people don't have friends who are in their neighborhood anymore. People have friends all around the world via the Internet so it makes a lot more sense in that case to look

              • by AHuxley (892839)
                Re: Everything is on computer networks that a person wanted to type/search for. Chatrooms may give some insight but people can be trolling/trying/sucking up to become a mod or really just like the topic and hold back from anything too personal.
                Images and comments on web 2.0 can be selected or rejected to build a brand or project quality or fun or prove a connection to some short term fad.
                The internet allows a person to relax, think and search before committing anything down or to be very creative..
                A
          • by elucido (870205)

            that's nothing compared what is involved in getting a TS clearance if you don't know

            people i've known said they investigate you at least 15 years back. find all your friends, find lost friends, interview them. people in their 20's said the government talked to all their teachers, neighbors, everyone they ever knew in their life

            How do you know the FBI doesn't already have a file on each of us going back 15 years? How do you know they don't just have it sitting in databases and decide to simply look it up when they are authorized?

            Going for a security clearance authorizes them to look at all the data they collected over the past 15-20 years but they probably have been collecting it whether you went for a security clearance or not. You think the FBI only keeps files on people who go for a security clearance?

            • by schnell (163007)

              How do you know the FBI doesn't already have a file on each of us going back 15 years? How do you know they don't just have it sitting in databases and decide to simply look it up when they are authorized?

              Take the tinfoil hat off. This is the same US government that loses hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually because they don't even have a system to track your W-2 statements automatically for tax purposes. But you think they have a 15 year file with everything online about 300 million citizens? Why bother with that if you can't even make people pay taxes?

              Yes, we all think modern government surveillance is creepy and illegal, but let's not give the government more credit for intelligence or reac

              • by elucido (870205)

                How do you know the FBI doesn't already have a file on each of us going back 15 years? How do you know they don't just have it sitting in databases and decide to simply look it up when they are authorized?

                Take the tinfoil hat off. This is the same US government that loses hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue annually because they don't even have a system to track your W-2 statements automatically for tax purposes. But you think they have a 15 year file with everything online about 300 million citizens? Why bother with that if you can't even make people pay taxes?

                Yes, we all think modern government surveillance is creepy and illegal, but let's not give the government more credit for intelligence or reach than it is actually due. The government has neither unlimited money or unlimited access, despite what Slashthink tells you.

                The FBI had a file on Martin Luther King and others involved with the civil rights movement going back for almost a decade in the 60s. They probably have files on anyone involved with any sort of movement today just as they did in the 60s.

              • by elucido (870205)

                http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/j-edgar-hoover-war-martin-luther-king [motherjones.com]

                And that was the 1960s. How do you know you don't have a file? If you have skills and an education its a near certainty that they have a file on you. If you're politically active they definitely do.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          It has been well-known that the government is searching email (beyond headers) for keywords for quite a few years now. And also, phone calls. It's not expensive any more, you know. Not when you're spending someone else's money.

      • by elucido (870205)

        You mean not having the government document your life for the last 20 years is not invasive?

        The government has a file on people whether they have a clearance or not. They probably just open the files of all the data they already have.

    • by DoctorChestburster79 (3017229) on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:29PM (#44762159)

      Of all of the things involved in securing top-secret clearance, I'm willing to be the polygraph is the least invasive. Interesting that it would be the only one called out by name.

      It's not that. It depends on the type of investigation you initially undergo to get said clearance in the first place. The big one for anyone holding a TS is a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). That goes through pretty much everything for (to start) the previous ten years. The next piece of the SSBI is the periodic review (PR), which should occur no later than five years after the previous investigation. Having been on the job market for almost 5 months, it was at least a relief to have the PR taken care of prior to my layoff.

      Next step up is clearing for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). Having the TS-SSBI (and PR) makes you ELIGIBLE to gain compartmented access, but that all falls under the umbrella of need to know. From what I recall back when I first became eligible, I was asked a few questions by the OPM investigator assigned to my case (really heavy on foreign interactions, etc.). Based on that info, along with the info in the SSBI, is what gets you into SCI.

      The poly only comes into play whenever a specific SCI program requires it, and even then, it's a little more involved. The big one that we're all familiar with is the Full Scope/Lifestyle, which is what most of the three letter agencies require for the really involved work. Some programs are only interested in counterintelligence (CI), while other programs don't need a poly at all. The main difference between a FS/LS and a CI poly is pretty simple: FS/LS look at anything you can possibly fess up to in your entire lifestyle (money habits, sexual inclinations, drug experiences, etc.), while CI looks at whether or not you'd be the type of guy (like Snowden) who'd sell US secrets to someone that wasn't an American.

      Having personally gone through the CI poly process, it's more tedious than anything else.

      • by vux984 (928602)

        while CI looks at whether or not you'd be the type of guy (like Snowden) who'd sell US secrets to someone that wasn't an American.

        Pretty sure Snowden could have honestly replied to any questions that made him sound like a spy.

        Or is a standard question... "If you found out your the entire apparatus of your employer up to the very top was corrupt and conducting illegal acts, and then lying to Congress about it. Would you keep quiet and participate in those criminal acts in violation of the law and the consti

        • by elucido (870205)

          while CI looks at whether or not you'd be the type of guy (like Snowden) who'd sell US secrets to someone that wasn't an American.

          Pretty sure Snowden could have honestly replied to any questions that made him sound like a spy.

          Or is a standard question... "If you found out your the entire apparatus of your employer up to the very top was corrupt and conducting illegal acts, and then lying to Congress about it. Would you keep quiet and participate in those criminal acts in violation of the law and the constitution?

          Lol... reminds me of those ethics tests they make people take for retail jobs. Where the "right" answers are to be a sociopath freak.

          "Suppose there is a coworker you were friends with, lived through a kidnapping with, and who is the god parent to your children and the best man at your wedding, and is in your opinion an excellent employee. Now if they were in a car accident, and he's running a touch late. He calls you from the parking lot as he's rushing in and asks you to punch them in so they would not appear to be late... would you:
          a) clock him in early
          b) stay out of it
          c) promptly report that he asked you to clock him in on time to your manager, and testify for the company against him when we sue him for the attempt to commit fraud?

          Company Answer sheet:
          a = wrong answer, automatic fail, and you are a worthless criminal
          b = wrong answer
          c = correct, this is the exactly the kind of people we want as employees. Just think, your new boss passed this test!! We bet you are looking to work with such ethical people!

          My understanding of it is that Security Clearances are about war. There is a chain of command, and ethics usually come in second to winning the war because being dead and ethical isn't as good as being alive and unethical in the context of a war.

          The other problem is the fog of war, if everything is compartmentalized then how can you know what is or isn't ethical in a situation when the information you have is incomplete and "need to know".

          • by vux984 (928602)

            There is a chain of command, and ethics usually come in second to winning the war because being dead and ethical isn't as good as being alive and unethical in the context of a war.

            "Just following orders" is long established as not a good enough reason to be complicit in war crimes.

            The other problem is the fog of war, if everything is compartmentalized then how can you know what is or isn't ethical in a situation when the information you have is incomplete and "need to know".

            If you are being asked to commit

      • by elucido (870205)

        Of all of the things involved in securing top-secret clearance, I'm willing to be the polygraph is the least invasive. Interesting that it would be the only one called out by name.

        It's not that. It depends on the type of investigation you initially undergo to get said clearance in the first place. The big one for anyone holding a TS is a Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). That goes through pretty much everything for (to start) the previous ten years. The next piece of the SSBI is the periodic review (PR), which should occur no later than five years after the previous investigation. Having been on the job market for almost 5 months, it was at least a relief to have the PR taken care of prior to my layoff.

        Next step up is clearing for Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). Having the TS-SSBI (and PR) makes you ELIGIBLE to gain compartmented access, but that all falls under the umbrella of need to know. From what I recall back when I first became eligible, I was asked a few questions by the OPM investigator assigned to my case (really heavy on foreign interactions, etc.). Based on that info, along with the info in the SSBI, is what gets you into SCI.

        The poly only comes into play whenever a specific SCI program requires it, and even then, it's a little more involved. The big one that we're all familiar with is the Full Scope/Lifestyle, which is what most of the three letter agencies require for the really involved work. Some programs are only interested in counterintelligence (CI), while other programs don't need a poly at all. The main difference between a FS/LS and a CI poly is pretty simple: FS/LS look at anything you can possibly fess up to in your entire lifestyle (money habits, sexual inclinations, drug experiences, etc.), while CI looks at whether or not you'd be the type of guy (like Snowden) who'd sell US secrets to someone that wasn't an American.

        Having personally gone through the CI poly process, it's more tedious than anything else.

        The real question is why would anyone want a Top Secret clearance? Is the pay really so great to be worth the trouble?

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          The real question is why would anyone want a Top Secret clearance? Is the pay really so great to be worth the trouble?

          People will take a drug test and answer a bunch of personal questions to get a fast food job. Is it a wonder that people will go through security clearance to get a cushy government [contractor] job where pay is not dependent upon performance?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @11:28PM (#44762985)

        Posting as AC as I have active clearances and don't want to spew all that info along with my account name

        A few corrections to this post:

          - An SSBI is the baseline investigation for anything Top Secret or higher.

          - A PR is not a prereq for any clearance. An PR is simply a 5 year update to your background. How recent your last investigation was is what matters. (Informally referred to as "having a good date")

          - Just having an SSBI (or SSBI-PR) does NOT mean you are eligible for SCI. The adjudication for SCI is more stringent and can have additional restrictions placed on it than a normal SSBI. SCI (and other SAP/SAR activities) can institute additional security measures above Top Secret. For example there are certain programs I have worked where individuals who already have SCI access to other programs were denied access due to issues (such as foriegn contacts). Some programs are just more picky or more sensitive

          - Which brings me to: There are only 3 levels of clearance, Top Secret being the highest. These are also referred to as "collateral" clearances. SCI and other compartmented data is given in "accesses", these are different from clearances and can have any number of additional investigative requirements.

          - A polygraph is not automatically required for Top Secret or even some SCI activities. It depends on the customer and the program. I've worked SCI programs that dont require it and others that do.

          As for the poly, its not as invasive as the SSBI... its just not a comfortable afternoon....

    • by Kaenneth (82978)

      Really all you need to know about Polygraphs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROhp2aS9pQU [youtube.com]

    • by Endovior (2450520)
      Quoth Cory Doctorow:

      "Polygraph" is the fancy, semi-scientific name for a "lie detector," a machine that's supposed to be able to tell whether you're fibbing by measuring things like "galvanic skin response" (another science-y word, meaning "sweatiness") and your heart rate. They were invented in 1921, and, like many science-y things, people decided they were so complicated that they must work. This, of course, is an insane reason to believe something.

      Lie detectors are crap. What they tell you is whether the person they've been hooked up to is sweaty, or whether his pulse has gone up, but that doesn't mean he's lying. Courts don't admit lie detector evidence for a reason.

      But they're still made and they're still used -- for much the same reason that people still wear crystals around their necks to cure their diseases or buy "homeopathic remedies" to get better. It's a combination of two distinct flavors of stupidity. I call the first one "It's better than nothing." I call the second one "It worked for me."

      These delusions are why many big corporations, the U.S. military, and the FBI subject their people to lie detectors. Imagine that you're some kind of millionaire big-shot company executive, the founder of a chain of successful convenience stores. You need to hire a regional manager, and if you hire the wrong person, he or she might rob you blind and ruin you. You need to get this right.

      So you pay some expensive "executive recruiting" company to find the right person. They have a big sales pitch: we're smart, we've been doing this for years, and best of all, we're scientific. We have "scientific personality tests" we'll administer to make sure you're getting the right person. And before you hire that person, we'll wire her up to our lie detector and ask her some important questions, like "Are you planning on robbing the company?" and "Are you a secret drug user?" and so on.

      Science is awesome, right? A scientific recruiting company's going to be totally bad-ass at finding you the right person, using the science of hiring-ology, and their science lab must have a bunch of Ph.D. hire-ologists. But you've heard that the polygraph is, you know, kind of sketchy. Does it really work?

      "Oh, sure," the consultants tell you. "Not perfectly, of course. But nothing's perfect. Polygraphs, though, sometimes tell you when someone is lying, and isn't that better than nothing?"

      (The correct answer is "probably not." Flipping a coin or sacrificing a goat would "sometimes" tell you if someone was lying, if you had enough lies and enough goats and you did it for long enough.)

      Now, imagine you're a section chief at the FBI. You got your job by passing a lie detector test. You'd been wired up, you'd been asked if you were a secret communist islamofascist terrorist dope-fiend. You'd said "no," and the machine agreed. It works! Now, some people out there say that the machine's a piece of crap, but what do they know? After all, it not only worked on you, it worked on everyone you work with!

      (Of course, everyone it didn't work on wasn't hired, or was hired even though they're snorting lines of meth through rolled up pages of The Communist Manifesto while they strap on their suicide bombs.)

      The world is full of science-y crap. You probably know someone who wears a copper bracelet to "help with arthritis." They might as well burn a witch or cover themselves in blue mud and dance widdershins under a full moon. There's a chance either of those things will make them feel better, because of the placebo effect (when your brain convinces itself to stop feeling bad), but there are an alarming number of people who insist that because something "works" it must not be a placebo, it must be "real."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:09PM (#44762055)

    I have been through the full scope polygraph process, and it sucked. I had to do it twice. It has been 1 year and I am still waiting for adjudication even though I passed the poly in April. However, my friend was hired by Amazon for the CIA work and he is getting a fast-tracked Full Scope Polygraph clearance apparently in only a few months. Considering how Amazon is staffing up and pushing people through for clearances, it would be very detrimental if IBM ended up winning the contract.

    I was also interviewed by Amazon for one of these positions. It was a phone call with a shared coding session. The guy was not friendly and he asked a lot of academic questions that do not directly apply to the job or anything I have done since college. I was turned off by the experience and didn't care that they did not want to proceed with a 2nd interview. However, my friend had a much more positive experience so it really depends on who you interview with I guess.

    I have worked in defense contracting for 10 years. I am now working for a startup company now and getting a lot more satisfaction out of my job. My friend received an outstanding job offer from Amazon, but he will likely end up hating his job and have the "golden handcuffs" put on.

    One interesting thing is that Amazon is hiring for both Seattle and D.C. area for these jobs. I don't like either city but it's interesting they are wanting to have people with clearances work in Seattle. At least there is an option for people that want one of these positions.

    • I, too, interviewed with Amazon back in June. Probably had the same guy you did, because he sure as hell didn't seem all that interested in any of the softer skills you'd need to do certain aspects of the job, especially with your spook counterparts. And this was for a systems engineer position.

      My feeling on any poly is meh. As long as you're up front with your security folks and asking questions about certain things (remember, the onus is also on you to keep things up and make the investigator and secur
    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Twice or more is the real mind game. Watch for the pre interview and they will watch you in the waiting area. What you read (on the net before and on the day), how you act, how you sit.
      Then the interview, then the questions, finally the hardware is hooked up... after the hardware ... more cute questions and offers to 'help', been on your side... if you are truthful NOW .... its all in the "other" questions and the build up over 2-3 tests.
      The UK looked at the tests the US offered in the 1980's and found
  • Don't do it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@@@mac...com> on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:29PM (#44762157) Journal

    DC is my home town, and I have several friends who have had jobs that required clearances with polygraphs. They've all told me that the job isn't worth the abuse.

    -jcr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 04, 2013 @08:34PM (#44762183)

    Bezos owns the Washington Post.

    And now Amazon wants to get in bed with the CIA ?

    What a crock of shit.

  • Tomorrow it's McDonalds and Coca Cola. The old timers are dying off. They have to find somebody that can keep their recipes secret. It's like Willy Wonka finding his successor.

  • Polygraph Tests (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They always accuse you of using drugs. Always. They also try to beat you into a confession. Always.

    I got up and walked out of my polygraph at the CIA when I interviewed. I didn't want to come close to finding out how an organization treated its employees when it treated its prospects like that.

    • They always accuse you of using drugs. Always. They also try to beat you into a confession. Always.

      Generally speaking the odds of a random American having tried drugs was about 42% back in 2008 and I'm sure that on a generational basis that number is likely higher or lower. Plus if you know where someone grew up or is currently living that affects the odds as well. So from that perspective it kind of makes sense to push someone on the issue - if they will not admit to doing something once or twice (that they really don't care about) then what else are they likely to keep close lipped that can actually be

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      They always accuse you of using drugs. Always. They also try to beat you into a confession. Always.

      I got up and walked out of my polygraph at the CIA when I interviewed. I didn't want to come close to finding out how an organization treated its employees when it treated its prospects like that.

      My uncle worked for a major defense contractor in the '80s (he left that position right before one of the major mergers occurred in the '90s), and had to take a poly as part of his program's requirements. When asked about drugs, he said no, to which the examiner accused him of lying on the spot. The excuse the examiner gave was EVERYBODY my uncle's age had tried something, to which my uncle replied that he was probably the first person that HADN'T tried anything, willingly or otherwise.

      At the end of the

  • I did a short stint with a military contractor. Had to be fingerprinted, urine tested, background checked and get secret clearance. Problem was the clearance process takes SO long that by the time I had completed the project and left the company I get a call about my clearance interview. Told em' it was a moot point.
  • They will simply outsource it India and China. Time to remove IBM from the fed and state payrolls.
  • They don't want people who can get clearances, they want people who have clearances, and that means Amazon needs to go to headhunters.

    If they are really desperate, they should start running audio ads on WTOP.

    (I live in the DC area, and that's how it is done.)

    • by lxs (131946)

      I wouldn't want to have a headhunter from the Amazon coming after me. Don't they shoot their victims with curare tipped blowdarts?

  • All them Sys Admins now have a private job waiting.

  • Do you smoke marijuana...

    Interesting question and such a dilemma; one really doesn't know how to answer that question anymore.

    Amazon is out of Washington state, one of two that have legalized marijuana when sold through the state itself (taxed).

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      That's a dumb thing to say. It's not a hard question. You say no, because it's still federally illegal and the security clearance is a federal matter. Then a man with a camera looks in through your window and finds out you're lying. Then they decide based on the position and how badly they need you whether you grant your clearance or not.

  • Top Secret clearances don't necessarily mean you'll have a polygraph test administered.
  • Q: What do you get when you require a Top Secret Clearance?
    A: A poorly skilled employee that can pee clean and has never had a life.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long

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