Steve Jobs' Top Secret Security Clearance
A Freedom of Information Act release of information about Steve Jobs made following his Oct. 5, 2011 death has unearthed a 191-page FBI file about the enigmatic, sometimes controversial and almost universally admired tech giant.
Among the details in the report is the fact that Jobs held a top secret security clearance from 1988 to 1990. The background investigation was conducted as a part of Jobs’ appointment to President George H.W. Bush’s Export Council. Jobs was the chairman and CEO of Pixar at the time.
Ironically, the information included in the investigation mirrors some of the challenges faced by investigators today – past drug use, a series of legal actions requiring research and investigative hours and conflicting reports from colleagues and associates concerning Jobs’ personal character and personality.
Issues of dishonesty and lack of integrity were mentioned, although even most critics said they would recommend Jobs to a position of public trust. Several mentioned that Jobs would distort reality to accomplish his goals, and that while his contributions to the tech industry could not be underscored, his willingness to do whatever it took to obtain them left some colleagues and employees disenfranchised.
Jobs is certainly a special case, perhaps – could an individual whose redeeming qualities were less stellar have obtained the same clearance? Perhaps it all goes back to mitigating circumstances – even in the face of lawsuits, LSD and questionable ethics, Jobs was able to demonstrate a “whole-person” aspect that rounded out the rough spots.
What do you think – if you were investigating Steve Jobs would he have gotten the clearance? What about a candidate today with a similar background, but a less famous name?