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Air Force Instructor Transferred After Refusing To Sign Secrecy Pledge

August 12, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A civilian instructor at an Air Force intelligence school in Texas has been transferred to another job because of his refusal to sign a controversial secrecy pledge governing classified information.

The Air Force, in a brief statement, said Wednesday that Louis Brase, a GS- 12 employee who worked as a ″cryptological maintenance training manager″ at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, was transferred temporarily to another post on Aug. 4 following his refusal to sign what is known as Standard Form 189.

The Reagan administration says the form is designed to underline the obligations of federal workers to protect classified information. But congressional leaders assert it is so broadly worded that employees are being asked to sign away their constitutional rights.

According to the Air Force statement, Brase holds the highest security clearance there is - the so-called Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance - because of his work in writing training manuals for courses dealing with encryption coding equipment.

When he refused to sign the form, ″at the direction of Air Force headquarters - due to the sensitive nature of the work being done in his work area - Mr. Brase was restricted from access to Sensitive Compartmented Information until this matter is resolved,″ the statement said.

While the Air Force noted Brase’s access to information ″up to and including Top Secret″ had not been affected as yet, it added he had been moved temporarily to an education counseling job and now had until Sept. 4 to sign the form.

″A refusal to sign will result in a suspension of access to all classified information and referral to the Air Force Security Office for a determination on revocation of his security clearances,″ the service said.

Ultimately, Brase could face reassignment or lose his job if his security clearance was revoked, the service said.

The Air Force acknowledged the action against Brase after it came to the attention of congressional investigators. The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight and investigations panel launched an inquiry into use of the form earlier this year after another Air Force employee - A. Earnest Fitzgerald - complained he had been ordered to sign the document.

Fitzgerald is a prominent whistleblower who was responsible for disclosing massive cost-overruns on the C-5 transport plane in the 1970s. He is currently facing a deadline of Aug. 24 to sign the form.

Although Standard Form 189 has been in use by some government agencies since 1985, it was only within the past year that the Pentagon began enforcing demands that it be signed by all workers with a clearance.

According to Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the form is so vaguely worded that employees can be disciplined or lose their jobs for releasing information that hasn’t even been classified.

For example, at one point the form requires a worker to agree that he will never release ″information that is either classified or classifiable ...″

That language would allow an agency to discipline a worker for releasing information that wasn’t classified until ″after-the-fact,″ Dingell says. He also charges that the form is designed to ″simplify going after someone″ suspected of leaking information to the press and to discourage government workers from talking to Congress.

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