Los Alamos National Lab

OMB’s New Security Memo Suggests WikiLeaks Is Media

A number of outlets are reporting on the OMB memo requiring agencies to review their security procedures in response to WikiLeaks.

Now, this memo is explicitly a response to WikiLeaks. It’s a follow-up on a memo sent in November that names WikiLeaks.

On November 28, 2010, departments and agencies that handle classified national security information were directed to establish assessment teams to review their implementation of safeguarding procedures. (Office of Management and Budget, Memorandum M-11-06, “WikiLeaks – Mishandling of Classified Information,” November 28, 2010.)

And one of the questions it directs agencies to ask names WikiLeaks (and, in a sign of the government’s nimbleness, OpenLeaks) specifically.

Do you capture evidence of pre-employment and/or post-employment activities or participation in on-line media data mining sites like WikiLeaks or Open Leaks?

But the delay–almost six months between Bradley Manning’s arrest and the November memo, and another month until this memo, sort of reminds me of the roughly eight month delay between the time Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to set his underwear on fire and the the time a bunch of grannies started getting groped at TSA security checkpoints.

Why the delay?

And from a document usability standpoint, this list of questions designed to help agencies identify weaknesses is a piece of shit. Trust me. No matter how good a bureaucrat is, asking them to use nine pages of nested bullets to improve a process is not going to work. This is simply not a credible process improvement effort.

I also wonder why it took WikiLeaks to initiate this effort. Just as an example, Los Alamos National Labs has been losing both storage media, computers, and BlackBerries going back a decade. You’d think the vulnerability of one of our nuclear labs would alert the government to our overall vulnerability to the loss of data via computer medium. Yet losing data to–presumably–our enemies did not trigger this kind of no-nonsense vulnerability assessment, WikiLeaks did.

The Russians and the Chinese are probably bummed that WikiLeaks will make it a teeny bit harder for them to spy on us.

All that said, Steven Aftergood makes one curious observation about the memo: this unusable list of nested bullets suggests that agencies should monitor employees’ contacts with the media.

Among other troubling questions, agencies are asked:  “Are all employees required to report their contacts with the media?”  This question seems out of place since there is no existing government-wide security requirement to report “contacts with the media.”  Rather, this is a security policy that is unique to some intelligence agencies, and is not to be found in any other military or civilian agencies. Its presence here seems to reflect the new “evolutionary pressure” on the government to adopt the stricter security policies of intelligence.

“I am not aware of any such requirement” to report on media contacts, a senior government security official told Secrecy News.  But he noted that the DNI was designated as Security Executive Agent for personnel security matters in the 2008 executive order 13467.  As a result, “I suspect that an IC requirement crept in” to the OMB memo.

I agree with Aftergood: it is troubling that an intelligence community requirement now seems to be applied to the federal workforce as a whole.

But isn’t this, at the same time, rather telling?

If a memo instituting new security reviews, explicitly written in response to WikiLeaks, institutes a policy of reviewing contacts with the media, doesn’t that suggest they consider WikiLeaks to be media?

Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel Here I thought John Brennan didn't want to swear an oath to the Fourth Amendment but it was the Fifth he really hated.
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emptywheel @3amkickoff FOUO allows it to be shared widely (that is, to local cops) but not released to us. A loophole in classification.
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emptywheel Also, as you read about TTIC starting this monstrosity remember that that was ... John Brennan at the time. Love that man. A real Jesuit.
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emptywheel @Ali_Gharib I'm not that far in but there are several spots where they say "Terror! Civil Liberties!" Thus, when in doubt, LIST!
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emptywheel @Ali_Gharib It means "when in doubt, list the person."
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JimWhiteGNV RT @theCCR: #UN: One child has been killed in #Gaza every hour for the past two days http://t.co/1RhV5sQtzj #GazaUnderAttack
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JimWhiteGNV RT @Ali_Gharib: In the watchlist handbook, "law enforcement community" is graphically represented by a fart. https://t.co/yZbvncMCMT http:/…
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JimWhiteGNV RT @mattaikins: I asked ISAF and a militia commander about executions. They gave somewhat different responses. http://t.co/o45vhDJ2Bc http:…
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emptywheel @sarahjeong It strikes me that cats would be annoying to prep, like rabbit. @onekade
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bmaz @rabite @ScottGreenfield @ErrataRob I know your attorneys, you are very lucky. And very well represented.
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emptywheel After Brennan gave up his "designate entire categories of people terorrists" wand, he swore oath to Constitution that had no Bill of Rights.
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July 2014
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