– Intelligence employees, current and past, barred from citing news leaks (Ars Technica, May 9, 2014):
Order comes amid steady stream of disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
The Obama administration is barring current employees and contractors, as well as former workers at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence from addressing leaked media material.
The revelation of the edict, first disclosed by Secrecy News, means that those working for the agency that supervises the nation’s 17 spy organizations cannot mention any leaked material in speeches, opinion pieces, research papers, or books. It does not even matter whether the material is classified, according to the edict from the office run by James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.
Citing leaked material is prohibited, according to the new “pre-publication review policy,” (PDF) because it “can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security.”
The gag order comes amid repeated media disclosures based on leaked documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Steven Aftergood, an analyst with the Federation of American Scientists who directs the federation’s Project on Government Secrecy, said in a telephone interview that the new policy even means that “if you’re an intelligence officer, you’re not supposed to discuss what is in the paper with your wife or neighbor if it’s based on a leak.”
The move follows another Clapper directive (PDF) in March requiring members of the nation’s 17 spy agencies to obtain approval to speak to reporters, even about non-classified information.
The latest policy is more strict than one already requiring intelligence employees, present and past, to get pre-publication approval of books.
Aftergood noted that the old policy was to ensure that classified material would not be exposed.
“This new instruction is somewhat surprising. It says the purpose is to prevent unauthorized disclosure of information, any information related to intelligence. This blurs the distinction between classified and non-classified information,” he said.
A spokesman for Clapper said “each case is unique and officials work with ODNI personnel to allow for as much public release as possible.”