Obama Officials Have a New Gag Rule on Discussing Snowden Leaks

The first rule of dealing with leaked secrets? Don’t talk about leaked secrets.

Supporters gather at a small rally in support of National Security Administration (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden in Manhattan's Union Square on June 10, 2013 in New York City. About 15 supporters attended the rally a day after Snowden's identity was revealed in the leak of the existence of NSA data mining operations.  
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
May 9, 2014, 7:08 a.m.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has a new strategy to stop the pub­lic-re­la­tions bleed­ing caused by Ed­ward Snowden and oth­er leak­ers of clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion: ban in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials from ac­know­ledging those leaks at all.

An April dir­ect­ive from the Of­fice of the Dir­ect­or of Na­tion­al In­tel­li­gence pro­hib­its both cur­rent and former em­ploy­ees and con­tract­ors from dis­cuss­ing news re­ports of those leaks in speeches, books, art­icles, or oth­er writ­ings, without first ob­tain­ing “pre­pub­lic­a­tion” per­mis­sion.

“Per­son­nel must not use sourcing that comes from known leaks, or un­au­thor­ized dis­clos­ures of sens­it­ive in­form­a­tion,” reads the policy in­struc­tion, which was first re­por­ted by the Pro­ject on Gov­ern­ment Secrecy’s Steven Af­ter­good. “The use of such in­form­a­tion in a pub­lic­a­tion can con­firm the valid­ity of an un­au­thor­ized dis­clos­ure and cause fur­ther harm to na­tion­al se­cur­ity.”

The broad but some­what am­bigu­ous or­der, which does not dif­fer­en­ti­ate between leaks of clas­si­fied or un­clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al, ap­pears to ad­di­tion­ally man­date that per­son­nel are barred from par­ti­cip­at­ing in “open dis­cus­sion ven­ues such as for­ums, pan­els, round tables, and ques­tion and an­swer ses­sions” without first ob­tain­ing ap­prov­al to do so.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s clamp­down on dis­cuss­ing leaked in­form­a­tion fol­lows an­oth­er re­cent policy de­cision re­quir­ing in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials to earn per­mis­sion be­fore en­ga­ging in any com­mu­nic­a­tion with a journ­al­ist.

Of­fi­cials are sub­ject to “civil and ad­min­is­trat­ive pen­al­ties” if they do not com­ply with the new policy.

The White House has faced on on­slaught of cri­ti­cism from me­dia out­lets and open-gov­ern­ment act­iv­ists, who say it is one of the most se­cret­ive ad­min­is­tra­tions in U.S. his­tory. It has pro­sec­uted more of­fi­cials in cases in­volving leak­ing clas­si­fied ma­ter­i­al than all pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions com­bined.

What We're Following See More »
ANOTHER NUCLEAR OPTION?
Byrd Rule Could Trip Up Health Legislation
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Even if House Republicans manage to get enough members of their party on board with the latest version of their health care bill, they will face another battle in the Senate: whether the bill complies with the chamber’s arcane ... Byrd rule, which stipulates all provisions in a reconciliation bill must affect federal spending and revenues in a way that is not merely incidental." Democrats should have the advantage in that fight, "unless the Senate pulls another 'nuclear option.'”

Source:
ONE WEEK
Senate Votes To Fund Government
5 hours ago
BREAKING
ON TO SENATE
House Passes Spending Bill
6 hours ago
BREAKING

The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.

FULL CABINET IN PLACE
Acosta Confirmed As Labor Secretary
7 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Alexander Acosta was confirmed Thursday night as Labor secretary, officially filling out President Trump's cabinet on day 98 of his presidency. Nine Democrats joined every present Republican in voting to approve Acosta, with the final tally at 60-38. Trump's first choice for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after taking criticism for hiring undocumented workers and for other matters in his personal life.

Source:
HAS WHITE HOUSE BACKING
Hurd to Make Push on Federal IT
8 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation today designed to help federal agencies update their aging technology—and this time, it has White House backing. Hurd worked alongside White House Office of American Innovation officials Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell in crafting and tweaking the legislation, and called their partnership an 'invaluable' part of the process."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login