The Trump administration has launched a new anti-leak program and BuzzFeed has obtained the leaked memo. The anti-leak program expands on the types of leaks under scrutiny and who will be scrutinized.
The top US national security official has directed government departments and agencies to warn employees across the entire federal government next week about the dangers and consequences of leaking even unclassified information.
The Trump administration has already promised an aggressive crackdown on anyone who leaks classified information. The latest move is a dramatic step that could greatly expand what type of leaks are under scrutiny and who will be scrutinized.
In the memo about leaks that was subsequently obtained by BuzzFeed News, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster details a request that “every Federal Government department and agency” hold a one-hour training next week on “unauthorized disclosures” — of classified and certain unclassified information.
The request includes “[s]uggested training materials” — provided by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center — that include the 15-minute C-SPAN video of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ August news conference about leaks and a six-minute Fox News video of an interview with the National Counterintelligence and Security Center’s director, William Evanina.
White House and National Security Council officials did not respond to requests for comment on the memo on Wednesday.
Last month, Sessions said his department was pursuing a number of leak investigations, and that the FBI had created a unit to deal with leaks of classified information. “We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer,” he said in the August press conference.
The memo, dated Sept. 8, signals a potentially dramatic expansion of the previous administration’s war on leaks. The Obama administration moves focused on alleged national security leaks and “insider threats” — an effort centered around the intelligence agencies under an October 2011 executive order from President Obama. Those investigations — and in some cases, prosecutions — were widely criticized, particularly in the media.
McMaster’s memo is directed to a much larger group, including virtually every senior official in the federal government — from the vice president and cabinet heads to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the director of the Peace Corps. Perhaps more importantly, the memo asserts that “unauthorized disclosure” of both classified and “controlled unclassified” information “causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people.”
The McMaster memorandum itself likely would be seen as a type of such a “controlled unclassified” document, as it is marked: “UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO [For Official Use Only].”
The first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by leaks at all levels, a source of considerable public criticism from the president himself. Axios reported Sept. 10 that Sessions has suggested employing lie detector tests in at least one leak investigation.
In the memo, McMaster requests that every government department and agency “dedicate a 1-hour, organization-wide event to engage their workforce in a discussion on the importance of protecting classified and uncontrolled unclassified information.” Although issued as a request, the memo later notes, “In order to ensure a consistent and strong message is given to the entire federal workforce, such training should occur the week of September 18-22, 2017.”
Read more: (Link: www.buzzfeed.com)