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Executive order cracks down on classified leaks

Oct. 7, 2011 - 01:23PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
The White House establishes an Insider Threat Task Force led by Attorney General Eric Holder, pictured, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
The White House establishes an Insider Threat Task Force led by Attorney General Eric Holder, pictured, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (John Thys / AFP via Getty Images)

The White House released an executive order Friday to better protect classified information.

The order establishes an Insider Threat Task Force led by Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to combat federal employee leaks of classified information.

The order responds to the WikiLeaks' leaks of classified government documents, including State Department cables and Defense Department reports, earlier this year.

It also:

Requires each agency to designate a senior official to oversee classified information sharing and implement an insider threat detection and prevention program.

Establishes an interagency steering committee responsible for setting classified information sharing and safeguarding goals. The committee must report annually to the president on agencies' successes and failures in protecting classified information.

"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 order says.

But the order also states that it should not deter lawful disclosure of information by government employees covered under the whistle-blower laws.

Steven Aftergood, a specialist on secrecy issues for the Federation of American Scientists, said the order does not set new policies but instead starts the process for developing new ways to deal with classified information.

"The policies that ultimately result from this process may be problematic but we don't know what they are yet," Aftergood said.

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