DNI Clapper Expands Net of Silence over U.S. Intelligence Employees

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
James Clapper (photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

Life inside the U.S. intelligence community is starting to resemble that of a grade-school classroom in which one must raise their hand before receiving permission to speak.


Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued another edict to those working for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) that prohibits them from referencing news reports that contain unauthorized leaks. The ODNI says the policy also applies to former employees and contractors.


“The use of such information in publication can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security. ODNI personnel are not authorized to use anonymous sourcing,” the new directive states.


The rule follows a recent order that bars members of the intelligence community from speaking to members of the media about classified or non-classified matters without first obtaining permission from their superiors. In addition, that order defines “media” so broadly that it might be read to include anyone who has shared a story about an intelligence agency on Facebook. Workers and contractors also must ask for approval before participating in “open discussion venues such as forums, panels, round tables, and question-and-answer sessions.”


Those that violate these mandates face “civil and administrative penalties” as well as the possible loss of security clearances.


The restriction on former employees and contractors might not pass constitutional muster. Timothy H. Edgar, a former intelligence office and White House employee, told The New York Times that former employees can’t be kept from citing news reports in the public domain as long as they don’t confirm their accuracy. “You’re basically saying people can’t talk about what everyone in the country is talking about,” Edgar said. “I think that is awkward and overly broad in terms of restricting speech.”


The clampdown by Clapper comes in response to embarrassing security leaks committed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden and U.S. Army Private Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Intelligence Staff Banned from Citing Leaked Material (by Hadas Gold, Politico)

Head-In-Sand Approach: White House Bans Current & Former Intelligence Staff From Discussing Any Media Leaks (by Mike Masnick, Techdirt)

ODNI Requires Pre-Publication Review of All Public Information (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)

Intelligence Policy Bans Citation of Leaked Material (by Charlie Savage, New York Times)

ODNI Pre-Publication Review of Information to be Publicly Released (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) (pdf)

Army Blocks Soldiers’ Access to News Articles about NSA Spying Revelations (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Bob McCarty 4 years ago
I'm very familiar with this "net of silence." Defense Intelligence Agency officials have stonewalled my request for unclassified documents related to DoD polygraph purchases for 667 days (so far). Details at http://ow.ly/wPF0f

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