The White House has named a longtime counterterrorism official to head up an interagency review on the handling of classified and secret government files in the aftermath of the latest dump of sensitive documents by the website WikiLeaks.
Russell Travers, who has spent more than 30 years working inside the government's intelligence community, has been tapped to oversee a broad review of the handling of classified material and help come up with reforms to thwart another wide-scale theft of government documents, according to the White House.
The President’s Intelligence Advisory Board will also conduct an independent review of how the executive branch shares and protects classified information. The board is tasked with ensuring that agencies have a proper understanding of the requirements in safeguarding classified information, getting a general sense of government officials' attitudes on leaks, and assessing how the government handles sensitive information and documents.
Travers, who is deputy director at the National Counterterrorism Center, will add the title of national security staff’s senior adviser for information access and security policy.
Travers will “lead a comprehensive effort to identify and develop the structural reforms needed in light of the Wikileaks breach,” the White House said in a statement.
Administration officials downplayed the damage caused by the leaks of confidential cables from U.S. embassies worldwide, but have vowed to prosecute anyone found to have played a role in leaking the documents to WikiLeaks.
Some of the leaked cables included U.S. diplomats retelling blunt talk from world leaders -- who never dreamed their comments to American envoys would be made public -- as well as snarky opinions by diplomats who believed cables would be seen only by colleagues in Washington.
"The fact is governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they think we can keep secrets," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said earlier this week.