Treasure trove for spies
When a retired 51-year-old military man disclosed in a US security clearance application that he had a 20-year affair with his former college roommate's wife, it was supposed to remain a secret between him and the government.
The disclosure last week that hackers had penetrated a database containing such intimate and possibly damaging facts about millions of government and private employees has shaken Washington.
The hacking of the White House Office of Personnel Management (OPM) could provide a treasure trove for foreign spies.
The military man's affair, divulged when he got a job with a defense contractor and applied to upgrade his clearance, is just one example of the extensive potential for disruption, embarrassment and even blackmail arising from the hacking.
The man had kept the affair secret from his wife for two decades before disclosing it on the government's innocuously named Standard Form 86 (SF 86), filled out by millions of Americans seeking security clearances.
His case is described in a judge's ruling, published on the Pentagon website, that he should keep his security clearance because he told the government about the affair. His name is not given in the administrative judge's decision.
Text: Arshad Mohammed and Joseph Menn, Reuters
Image: An illustration picture shows a projection of binary code on a man holding a laptop computer, in an office in Warsaw June 24, 2013.
Image courtesy: Reuters