President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, no longer has a “Top Secret” security clearance (TS). Chief of Staff Kelly has revoked all such temporary clearances for White House Staff members if their applications were pending as of last June.

Because Kushner’s temporary TS clearance has been pending since then, he was among those losing it. The President has the right to grant any type of clearance with or without an investigation, so he could have granted Kushner a permanent clearance. Averring on February 23 that Kelly would do the “right thing” with respect to Kushner, the President let Kelly decide (so far).

A TS clearance is a good deal less than meets the eye.

Above TS is “Sensitive Compartmented Information” (SCI). SCI means information that has been put in a “compartment” by someone in the intelligence community. And even if a person has “TS-SCI” clearance, that just means that a person has the status to be a recipient of SCI, not that the person can actually receive data in a particular compartment.

The decision to place data in a compartment, thus barring those holding just TS, is made by the government agency holding the data. On occasion, the placement of material in a compartment is done to stop access without a specific consent from the agency placing data there. Thus, someone using TS to see data on a particular subject may suddenly be barred from certain data because it requires a higher clearance.

To have access to SCI, someone holding TS-SCI status must actually be “read Into” the compartment, an oral briefing followed by a written acknowledgement by the person briefed. By the way, the person so admitted to a compartment does not receive a copy of the written acknowledgement.

There is no way of knowing whether Jared Kushner was ever “read into” a compartment or whether he ever had TS-SCI status, albeit temporarily. The nation’s top secrets are unavailable to those with mere TS clearance because those secrets are invariably in compartments. (Surely the “President’s Daily Brief” is in one or more compartments so if he saw those he would have had to be read into that or those compartments.)

Thus, whatever Kushner had temporarily been allowed to see with TS was thin soup in the world of government secrecy.

All SCI (and a lot of TS) must only be seen or discussed in a SCIF, an acronym for secure compartmented information facility. This is a secure room in the offices of a government agency or department.

By the way, the entire White House (including the residence) is a SCIF.