Biden Document Questions: What Is TS/SCI, and Where Is the Chain of Custody?

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Intel and national security experts clarify definitions and raise more questions on top secret sensitive compartmented intelligence

Revelations keep unfolding in regard to the classified documents from President Joe Biden’s vice presidency that have been discovered at multiple locations.

Yet, for many people following the story, it’s easy to get lost in intelligence jargon and an alphabet soup of agencies.

For example, what is top secret sensitive compartmented information (TS/SCI)–and what does it mean if one or more documents recovered from the Penn Biden Center in Washington were marked TS/SCI?

The Epoch Times reached out to national security and intelligence experts to learn more about the TS/SCI classification.

The experts explained what it entails and just how bad things could be.

Some Basics on ‘Highest Form of Top Secret’

Michael Sekora, a veteran of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and other intelligence agencies, who worked in the Reagan administration, explained that top secret (TS) information is at the top of a hierarchy of classification.

“For Official Use Only” is less classified than “Confidential,” which ranks below “Secret,” which ranks below “Top Secret.”

Sensitive compartmented information (SCI) is, in turn, “sort of the highest form of top secret,” according to J. Michael Waller, a Senior Analyst for Strategy at the Center for Security Policy.

“It’s extremely sensitive,” Waller said, calling it “the crown jewel stuff” in a Jan. 12 interview with The Epoch Times

SCI is primarily intelligence methods and sources.

“In some cases, you’re protecting a source. In some cases, you’re protecting a method,” Sekora told The Epoch Times in a Jan. 13 interview.

“SCI would often reveal the source and the methods on its own,” Waller said.

“It’s like saying, ‘We got this data from the foreign minister of France.’ Well, that would completely compromise him if it was known he was passing it on secretly to the United States. Whereas top secret [without SCI] might say, ‘According to a friendly high-level official.”

Even within SCI, there are different levels of access, often referred to as “sigmas.”

“There’s a pyramid of access even within an individual program,” Sekora said.

By Nathan Worcester

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