Mar-a-Lago search: What is a special access program?

According to a story in The New York Times, the search at President Donald Trump’s Florida home on Monday was carried out at least in part in an effort to account for documents related to the most highly classified programs run by the United States.

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The times cited a person “briefed on the matter” as saying the material is from what the government calls “special access programs,” which relate to extremely sensitive operations.

According to The Washington Post, an unnamed source said the material dealt with nuclear programs. On Friday morning, Trump denied he had such classified material.

What are special access programs? Here’s a look at the what we know now.

What is a special access program document?

A Special Access Program is established for a specific type of classified information. The program implements safeguarding and access requirements, according to the Center for Development of Security Excellence. The safeguards are stricter than those normally required for information at the same classification level.

It is a designation that is usually reserved for extremely sensitive operations carried out by the United States abroad or for closely held technologies and capabilities.

Can anyone get that clearance?

If a person holds a Secret or Top Secret clearance, access to SAP material is granted on the strength of your recommendation by a fellow SAP member and your ability to pass the background screening or the ability to maintain your clearance after it has been granted, according to

A person must go through several investigations and usually a polygraph test to be considered for access to SAP material.

How many types of SAPs are there?

There are two types of SAP programs — acknowledged and unacknowledged.

An acknowledged SAP may be publicly disclosed, but the details of the program remain classified. An unacknowledged SAP is known only to authorized persons in the government.

There is a third classification known as a waived SAP. The Department of Defense uses this subset of unacknowledged SAPs.

This type of SAP is exempt by the statutory authority of the secretary of defense from most reporting requirements. The only persons who are required to be informed of these SAPs are the chairpersons and ranking committee members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee, House Appropriations Committee, and the House Armed Services Committee.

What are the SAP categories?

There are three categories of SAPs within the Department of Defense:

· Acquisition SAPs (AQ-SAPs), which protect the “research, development, testing, modification, and evaluation or procurement” of new systems.

· Intelligence SAPs (IN-SAPs), which protect the “planning and execution of especially sensitive intelligence or counterintelligence units or operations.”

· Operations and Support SAPs (OS-SAPs), which protect the “planning, execution, and support” of sensitive military activities.

How is the information identified?

The words “SPECIAL ACCESS REQUIRED,” followed by the program nickname or codeword, are placed in the document’s banner line to announce it is an SAP.

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