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Military Policy & Weapons/Mid to High-Level Jobs/Ranks at The Pentagon/Whitehouse/Senate


QUESTION: Hey James,

        Well, firstly I'll wager this is one of the stranger questions you get asked this week, but having checked your expertise list, I'm hoping this is right up your alley.

But first, some context. I'm a screenwriter currently writing a script that revolves around the world of governmental departments and red tape. A world that is somewhat alien to me. Here's the scenario-

The story is set in the very near future and my National Security agent protagonist intercepts a communicae that contains a list of names of personnel at various Washington DC governmental locations one of which is an assassin disguised as a High rank operative/employee.  

In order to keep the reader/audience off the scent, I need to have three possible suspects working at three facilities all of whom could be the assassin. The locations I chose were the obvious ones-

The Pentagon
The White House
The Senate

But it's not as easy as I thought to find lists of high profile jobs/ranks in those locations and what I'm looking for is positions of mid to high power with high security clearance that would allow the assassin access to confidential files or restricted areas.

So put simply, what are the positions would allow someone to walk around with impunity at the Pentagon, White House and Senate? That could also simply include ordinary blue-collar security of course.

There's an added bonus section to this. The Pentagon employee, who will turn out not to be the assassin, is in fact the female love-interest. As such, I was hoping to find a position for her that isn't so aggressively masculine. In other words, I don't want her to be a general or in any position where she would be required to be a ball breaker since I want her to be sympathetic.

For her, I was thinking of something outside the military, but still a position where she has access to high level areas and personnel (since we need to think she could be the assassin). A level of authority where she'd be invited to and have access to the war room, but se's not military. She's never handled a gun. This isn't really her world.

I hope I explained that well enough. That was a lot of info to get across. Thanking you in advance. I hope you can help.



ANSWER: Please clarify for whom your assassin is working: is s/he a U.S. government operative, or an enemy mole burrowed into the bureaucracy ready to be activated to kill some high-level official(s), or something else entirely?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for your follow up question, James.

It's actually set in the not-so distant future so the assassin is using holographic tech to disguise his face as a high-level official to get close and eliminate another official. So essentially an enemy mole. He's part of an undefined terrorist cell. I just need examples of high-level positions in the Pentagon, White House and senate that could be held by the three suspects (two of which are red herrings to keep the audience guessing) and that would allow them high-security clearance whether that be the Oval office or the Pentagon war room.

Hope that clarifies things



"What are the positions would allow someone to walk around with impunity at the Pentagon, White House and Senate?"

Many, many people are cleared to have broad access to these institutions, and it gets complicated. But here are some insights:

Pentagon: the DoD headquarters is HUGE and there are compartmented areas into which some have access, but not others. But, generally speaking, most civilians and military personnel with top secret clearances have access to most of the buildings and offices. However, Mr. X with a TS clearance may not be allowed into any number of facilities; it all depends on what specific clearances he has. For your fiction, you could simplify things and simply make your mole a military person, ranging from a low-ranking specialist up to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Alternatively, the person could be a civilian, again, of virtually any ranking. For example, an Army corporal who works in top secret communications could have as broad access as a 3-star general. So, rank is not important. DoD's bureaucratic structure chart is available online. You might want to study it and pick whatever offices suit your purposes. You can also make one up.

White House: there's, of course, the Secret Service. But, again, anyone with a full White House access pass can have access to most of the work-related facilities. Secret Service agents are posted all over the place to eyeball, or scrutinize, people's passes (which they wear around their necks on a chain). I had such a pass and was able to go pretty much where I wanted with the exception of the First Family's private quarters. Your mole therefore could be a civilian or military employee, or even a janitor, kitchen staff, butler, etc.

Senate: the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms has responsibility for Senate security. So, either one of its security agents or just about any congressional staff member with a pass can have full sway of the place. Congress, obviously, is the most public of the three government entities you've asked about.

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James Bruno


Diplomacy and foreign affairs. How government decision-making takes place. Interactions of the White House, State Dept., Pentagon, Congress and CIA in formulating policy. How governments deal with each other. Area expertise includes Afghanistan, Indochina, Europe, Cuba. Served in Guantanamo. Currently a member of the Diplomatic Readiness Reserve and Standby Response Corps.


23-years as a diplomat with the U.S. State Dept. Previously at the Defense Dept. Prior to joining government, worked as a journalist with major news organizations.

CBS-News, UPI; various newspapers. Bestselling novelist: TRIBE, PERMANENT INTERESTS and CHASM.

M.A. - U.S. Naval War College
M.A. - Columbia Univ.
B.A. - George Washington Univ.

Awards and Honors
Various in government.

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