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by optix


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 [ 743 ] +

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I've always had a good job, ever since I was of working age. I started working for a US Army Battalion, working on computers back when I was 16. Of course I had to jump through all kinds of hoops, but I was hired. We (My helpdesk) had a good rep with the 66th MI (Army Intelligence) and we'd work on their computers sometimes, even though we weren't supposed to, but their supporting unit was 5 hours away. When I'd walk into the room, they'd have to turn off the monitors with the classified information on them, but whatever, I just wanted to do my job, not spy.

One day, at about 3:30 PM one of the guys with 66th came over to my office, and asked if I could reload a laptop for him. I gave the standard "sure, I'll be done sometime tomorrow or the day after, I'll call you." I had him leave the laptop on my desk, and he left. I worked on some other stuff for a bit, then I started on the laptop. I tried booting the laptop into the BIOS to change the default boot device, but it had a password. 'Well, fuck you too.' I thought to myself, as I flipped it over to pull the hard drive out. Unfortunately for me, the laptop's hard drive screw was some wierd security screw that looked like someone drilled it out (but did a poor job.) I made a mental note, paper note, and emailed myself "remember to bring your security screwdriver set tomorrow." I got a phone call, and the time flew by, and next thing I knew, I was at home. Keep in mind that the laptop was sitting on my desk, all night, out in the open.

I came into work the next morning, I opened up my email, answered the million messages I had gotten, then got started on answering and working on all of the worktickets that had accumulated throughout the night. I called people, fixed email, unjammed printers. Then I saw the laptop on my desk, and remembered that it needed to be reinstalled. I started to boot it into the BIOS to change the boot device, and had some deja vu. The BIOS was passworded, and I though to myself 'Well, fuck you too." So I flipped the laptop over, then looked at the wierd screw, and then remembered why I had put it off, and why I had this wierd deja vu feeling. So I went down to the car, and brought the toolkit upstairs again, and got to work on the screw.

Now, this wasn't your average security screw, it was a weird diamond shape, with a reverse torx in the middle. After failing to get the screw out on the first try, I grabbed a hex-style bit, and just cranked the motherfucker out. 'Oh well, I'll grab another screw from the parts bin,' I thought. So I got the drive out, was about to plug it into the 2.5" USB adapter, when I realized that I had the drive upside down still, so I flipped it over. When I saw the sticker, I dropped it right then and there.

For the readers who don't work around classified information, there are a few classifications. I'll only get into the usual ones. My office was only certified to hold unclassified, but sensitive information; there was a lock on the door. Anything above that classification, we get into scary things, like double-locked doors, rooms that are built into foot-thick steel vaults, calling base security to open the door, and tri- and sometimes quad-factor authentication. Those are generally classified Classified (Purple-blue sticker), Secret (red sticker), and Top Secret (Orange sticker) is a whole 'nother story. Top Secret SCI (Yellow) is the top classification, it's what our nuclear codes are classified.

Now back to the story. I flipped over the laptop drive, and saw the orange and yellow stickers. My heart stopped. I don't think my heart beat for about a minute.

Two stickers. Top Secret SCI. And this thing had been in my office, on my desk for almost a whole day now. This had been in my possession, and I'd ignored it. Someone could have stolen it. I was freaking out. I picked up the drive and laptop, shaking, walked to my boss's office (who was a cool guy) and threw it on his table. His eyes met mine, and he said "What's up?" and then he saw the stickers on the drive. He said "Leave. And close the door."

I thought my boss would be the one who took the hit for it, so I figured I'd never hear anything about it again. However I was wrong. Three days later, I got a phone call in my office, from my boss, which was really wierd, because he liked coming by, and talking to me rather than using the phone. He told me to come to his office. I was a little weirded out, but I had completely forgotten about the whole laptop-issue. ( I have very little short-term to mid-term memory, if you haven't noticed.) In his office, sitting in his chairs, were two gentlemen, both dressed in horridly cheap looking suits. They said "Can we talk?" To which I replied, "Sure thing. (while thinking, 'Do I really have a choice?')

They asked me a few questions, mostly about who was in control of the laptop, how long was it sitting on my desk, did I turn it on, and for how long. After they both scribbled down my answers, they asked if I could come by building xxxx (Can't remember the number, but I probably should write that anyway.) after lunch. "Yeah, sure." Little did I know that I was going to be polygraphed.

After lunch I went to building xxxx, and asked for Agent wahterverhisnamewas. I was brought to a room, which looked like it could have been someone's office, but it was barren, almost like someone had just moved out. He hooked me up to the polygraph, and asked me questions (your standard poly questions) then he asked my age. I said "16 years old." The guy almost fell out of his chair, as he realized that he was interrogating a minor without parental consent, much less presence. He quickly unhooked me, and apologised. Then he, personally drove me back to my building, and told me "Have a nice day."

I haven't heard anything since, but I wonder what was on that hard drive. And why it was suddenly O.K. just because I was a minor. What about minor spies?