Bill Gates Has Top Secret Clearance
An interesting tidbit in an otherwise mundane AP story: Microsoft executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer have Top Secret clearances from the Defense Department.
OTB roving correspondent Richard Gardner passed on the tip and noted that this isn’t surprising, on reflection, since Microsoft does a lot of encryption and other IT work for the government and “SEC rules require executives to know what their underlings are up to.” He also speculates that “A clearance could allow classified intel briefings before Gates meets with foreign leaders.”
It makes a lot of sense, really, given Microsoft’s position and, contrary to the movie depictions of these things, a security clearance is not the equivalent of a library card. Gates can’t simply get access to information; he has to have the proverbial “need to know.”
On a personal level, I find it rather amusing that Gates and Ballmer, who are billionaires several times over, have what amounts to a free ticket to a high paying government job. As noted here numerous times, the longstanding backlog on security background checks makes those with an existence clearance, especially a Top Secret, a hot commodity in the defense and homeland security sectors.