Pentagon to Enhance Security for Classified Intelligence

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The U.S. Defense Department will not order a sweeping overhaul of its security procedures following a review of the leak of hundreds of classified documents earlier this year on a social media platform popular with gamers.

Results of the 45-day review, released Wednesday, instead call for a series of measures aimed at tightening existing security measures and improving communication so that officials in charge of secure facilities are taking all the necessary precautions.

“This review found that the overwhelming majority of DoD personnel with access to CNSI [Classified National Security Information] are trustworthy, and that all DoD Components demonstrate a broad commitment to security,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote in a memo, dated June 30.

But Austin added that the review “identified areas where we can and must improve accountability.”

Pentagon officials announced the review in April after the arrest of 21-year-old Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira.

Teixeira has been charged with six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information for removing intelligence documents from a secured work environment and posting them, as well as photos of other documents, for a small group on Discord.

Teixeira pleaded not guilty during a court hearing last month and remains in custody pending trial.

The Pentagon has already sought to reduce the number of employees with access to sensitive information and officials said the new recommendations seek to build on that.

“There was no single point of failure,” a senior defense official said Wednesday, speaking to reporters about the review’s findings on the condition of anonymity.

“What we see here is we have a growing ecosystem of classified facilities and a body of personnel who are cleared,” the official said. “Within that we have opportunities to clarify policy … they are not the clearest documents always.”

The official said that includes making sure Defense Department personnel understand when and how to report violations of security protocols.

The official also said efforts are underway to make sure employees are continually vetted and that managers have the information they need to revoke security clearances if something in an employee’s history necessitates a change.

Other changes called for in the review are aimed at improving physical security, including a mandate to install detection systems that would identify when a smart phone or other prohibited electronic device is brought into a secure facility.

According to a 2017 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, approximately 4 million people have U.S. security clearances, with 1.3 million cleared to access top-secret information.

Following the disclosure of the Discord leak in April, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines called the incident, “deeply depressing … very frustrating.”

But she also urged officials not to overreact.

“What I think we all try to do is learn the right lessons and then not over-torque as a consequence,” Haines said at the time. “What I mean by that is to try to promote better practices, while at the same time not undermining our capacity to do appropriate sharing and to engage in our mission.”

Source: VOA

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