Obama Memorandum Protects National Security By Demonizing Whistleblowers

Susanne Posel, Contributor
Activist Post

On November 25th President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum entitled “National Insider Threat Policy and Minimum Standards for Executive Branch Insider Threat Programs” that outlines the provision “and guidance to promote the development of effective insider threat programs within departments and agencies to deter, detect, and mitigate actions by employees who may represent a threat to national security.”

The National Insider Threat Policy (NITP) is still classified, yet the referenced document describes “minimum standards” for stifling federal information leaks that would indicate the release of intelligence considered secret for the protection of national security. Federal employees that are privy to such information would be monitored by this directive.

The Insider Threat Task Force, an interagency created to minimize the dangers to national security posed by “unauthorized disclosures” of intelligence, will be empowered to unilaterally prevent information sharing. Sensitive data as collected by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and other federal agencies tasked with obtaining information have measures in place to protect employee’s ability to have access to such data; as well as having to gain chain-of-command permission with an ever present need-to-know parameter.

Obama further defines this safety measure by stating: “Our nation’s security requires classified information to be shared immediately with authorized users around the world but also requires sophisticated and vigilant means to ensure it is shared securely.”

The Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee are given the authority to dictate policies governing this presidential measure as well as oversee government agency’s compliance per department. This committee was empowered in 2011 because of disclosure of classified government documents given to WikiLeaks by Bradley Manning.

The Obama administration has been posturing themselves behind the scenes to establish “adequate protections to our classified information while at the same time sharing the information with all who reasonably need it to do their jobs.”

With executive order 13587, Obama set out to “improve the security of classified networks . . . and responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified information.”

While claiming to be concerned with remaining “consistent with appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties”, Obama ensures that digital data that is defined by the US government as sensitive can and will be under policy regulations of interagency bodies of correlating departments. This blanket statement applies to “information security, personnel security, and systems security; address both internal and external security threats and vulnerabilities; and provide policies and minimum standards for sharing classified information both within and outside the Federal Government.”

This presidential memorandum clearly defines Obama’s desire to quash any intelligence leaks that may occur under his watch. Regardless of the future treatment of federal whistleblowers, this executive-created extension of cybersecurity compliments the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) that is being redefined for 2013.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has been integral in the establishment of the 2013 IAA that had added provisions with intelligence leaks in mind.

The executive branch is required to notify Congress when making certain authorized disclosures of intelligence information to the public;

  • A requirement for the Director of National Intelligence to improve the process for conducting administrative leaks investigations, including a requirement to proactively identify leaks and take administrative action when necessary;
  • A restriction on the number of intelligence community employees authorized to communicate with the media;
  • A provision to improve non-disclosure agreements and the penalties for non-compliance;
  • A prohibition on current and former intelligence officials entering into certain contracts with media organizations;
  • A report from the attorney general on possible improvements to the criminal process for investigating and prosecuting leaks; and
  • A provision to improve the intelligence community’s ability to detect insider threats.

Thanks to Senator Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, there is newly drafted Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) that allows law enforcement to no longer require a warrant at all, and could access any electronic information required to conduct their investigation by simply claiming its relevance.

In the recently altered bill HR 2471, federal and local law enforcement agencies including Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Maritime Commission, the Federal Postal Regulatory Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, the Mine Enforcement Safety and Health Review Commission and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will be empowered to obtain any US citizen’s:

  • Private email
  • Google Docs
  • Facebook posts
  • Twitter posts

Senator Joseph Lieberman, author of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, spoke at George Washington University at an event sponsored by the Homeland Security Policy Institute and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lieberman chairs this institute. At the talk Lieberman stated:

Cyberterrorists, criminal gangs, rogue hackers and rival nations are becoming ever more aggressive in probing and attacking the computer networks that control our critical physical infrastructure — water systems, electric utilities and pipelines — and our critical financial infrastructure.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee released a report in October that explained how the US government wastes taxpayer money and mismanages through the DHS a futile focus on programs that do not work. This extends to the use of fusion centers that simply spy on Americans in the name of national security.


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