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It's understandable to tell as few people as possible, especially as they were being tracked; there could be a mole, but besides Leia it seemed no one knew.

I know Finn was knocked out, but why not tell him the plan after he woke up? At least, Holdo would only know Finn as a hero of the Battle of Starkiller Base. If Poe was a overconfident hothead, Finn was the opposite- i.e., nervous, confused, and lacking the desire to be a hero, despite becoming one. Also, Rose was an engineer- too low for the leaders to notice... but, she was also shown to be very loyal, by knocking out defectors, and dragging them to the brig. There's no way Rose would be a traitor.

How can the plan be carried out if no one is told what it is?

marked as duplicate by Möoz, Jenayah, TheLethalCarrot, Mat Cauthon, Edlothiad Dec 4 '18 at 10:08

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  • On a related note: Do you think Han Solo would have been told the plan, if he had survived? – user35971 Dec 2 '18 at 1:48
  • Why should they tell anyone the plans? You're looking at this with hindsight, something Holdo didn't have. There was no reason to tell anyone, at the time. – Möoz Dec 4 '18 at 7:15
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On multiple occasions we see Vice Admiral Holdo consulting with other senior officers. It seems likely that the information was only provided to the other commanders, and anyone of lower rank was not privy to the plan.

There is absolutely no reason that Finn would be told about the plan. He was a former stormtrooper with a great deal of personal loyalty to Rey and a friendship with Poe, but he was not even officially a member of the Resistance, let alone a high-ranking officer.

There is absolutely no reason that Rose would be told about the plan either. While we see her demonstrate great loyalty to the Resistance, she was a low-ranking deck mechanic with no need to be informed about any specific details.

  • I could still argue that there is no evidence Holdo even knows that Rey exists. Nevertheless, I will admit that you make good points, and it's a great answer. – user35971 Dec 2 '18 at 2:45
  • @user35971 - How could Holdo, one of the highest-ranking officers, not know about Rey? – Adamant Dec 2 '18 at 5:40
  • Still, Poe is second in command AFAIK, so he should be informed. Film lacks explanation, Holdo's secret is probably just to cold down Poe – T. Gawęda Dec 3 '18 at 12:59
  • @T.Gawęda Poe was demoted to Captain at the beginning of the film. According to Wookieepedia the Resistance had a full four officer ranks above Captain, including Major, Commander, Colonel and General. Despite their limited numbers it seems very unlikely that there were no higher-ranking officers to serve as second in command. – Kyle Doyle Dec 4 '18 at 1:22
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There seems to be a common belief that trustworthiness, or lack thereof, is the sole criterion controlling whether a person will be granted access to military secrets. It also seems to be believed that revealing a secret is a common method of confirming trust in an individual.

As someone who in real life held a security clearance in the US military for 20 years, I can affirm that these ideas are ridiculously false.

The chief criterion that controls whether a person will have access to information is the principle of Need to Know, specifically, whether a person needs to know something in order to accomplish his or her official duties. It does not matter how trustworthy you are, how "important" you are, or how high your rank is; if you can get your official duties done without having access to information A or location B, sorry, no, you don't have access. Material at the highest classification levels will not only be marked with its classification, but will also be marked to indicate the program under which it is classified, and people who aren't briefed into that program are presumed to lack need-to-know.

The chief reason for this principle is because the chance of compromise increases as the number of people with access goes up; giving access to people who don't need it creates an unnecessary risk, and while the enemy has many ways of getting a person to reveal what they know (torture, bribery, going through their trash, etc.), nobody has found a way to get someone to reveal a secret they don't actually know.

In my own case, I was a cryptographic maintenance technician. (Cryptographic equipment is used for encrypting messages for transmission so that whoever intercepts the message traffic sees only pseudo-random garbage.) As part of my job I had access to the equipment, the maintenance manuals for the equipment on which I worked, and the operations manuals for the equipment (because you need to know how to operate equipment to know if it's operating correctly). I also had access to the facility where the equipment was used, although in some cases I still had to be escorted, because my duties did not require me to come and go according to my own judgment.

I was most certainly not allowed to peruse the message traffic of the equipment I maintained, even though I held a clearance equal to or higher than all of this message traffic. This was not a slight against my trustworthiness, nor did it cause me to wonder what my chain of command was hiding from me; I didn't need to see it to do my job, so I wasn't allowed to look. It must be understood that nobody in the military has any problem with this.

In the case of a person who has a need to know something, but who does not have the required clearance level, the military will either verify the person's reliability and grant the clearance, or arrange that person's duties so that access is no longer required.

So no, Rose does not get briefed on the plan; she simply does not need to know. Finn does not get briefed on the plan; he doesn't need to know, and has glaring reliability issues (i.e., he was one of the enemy a few days ago). Poe would have gotten briefed if Holdo needed him to know, but she apparently decided that either he wasn't going to be involved in the evacuation except as a passenger, or that informing him could wait until later, and she was acting perfectly within her authority to make these decisions.

We can question the wisdom of a plan that excluded the active participation of someone as skilled and experienced and otherwise unoccupied as Poe, and the condescension she exhibited towards Poe when handling his questions was frankly inexcusable, but once she had decided on the roles of everyone involved in the plan, determining that certain people don't need to know the plan is perfectly within her authority.

  • And this is said as someone who deeply loathed the movie. – EvilSnack Dec 2 '18 at 23:22

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