Monday, April 21, 2014

DNI Clapper Issues Directive: All Intelligence Community Employees Forbidden To Speak To Press

Kevin Gosztola at FDL:
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has issued a directive that prohibits all employees of the intelligence community from speaking to the press.

Signed on March 20, it establishes a policy on “contact with the media,” which leadership in intelligence agencies believe will “ensure a consistent approach for addressing media engagement across the intelligence community and mitigate risks of unauthorized disclosures of intelligence-related matters that may result from such contacts.”

It does not differentiate between classified and unclassified information. Any detail pertaining to an “intelligence-related” matter, if disclosed to a member of the media, is “covered” by the policy. However, the policy apparently does not “apply to contact with the media in connection with civil, criminal or administrative proceedings.”

Emphasis mine.

Note that all employees... not just agents handling classified material... are forbidden to speak to the press. Note also that the press is broadly defined, and most certainly includes internet publications such as blogs. And finally, note that all communication about any intelligence-related matter, even if it is unclassified, is censored by the policy. It appears to me as if this lessens or perhaps eliminates outright the whole concept of something from an intelligence agency that is unclassified, unless it is administrative or related to legal actions.

In these parlous times of consistent over-classification, often obviously for purposes of CYA rather than security, such a policy is obscene. The American public deserves better. This policy provides critics (and I am emphatically a critic) with a good argument for shutting down the three-letter agencies altogether... not that we would be so fortunate as to live to see that happen.


  1. This kind of directive is quite common in both public and private enterprise. For example, police officers regularly get directives telling them not to talk to the press, leave it to Public Affairs to talk to the press, because a) their chiefs know the press rarely quotes people accurately (something I can confirm from personal experience, and b) thus talking to the press takes special skills to ensure that the message you're trying to send is actually being received by them. And if you don't have those skills, talking to the press is akin to taking your service weapon and placing it to your head and pulling the trigger, it's professional suicide.

    So while I think Clapper should be imprisoned in a National Forest Service vault crapper, in the bottom part, I really can't fault him for this particular directive. Not having experienced the actual paid press the way I have. They're a pack of lying hyenas who care about nothing except page views and creating scandal even if there is none, and any actual news gathering that they do is incidental to those two goals. That's one reason why I read my morning San Jose Murky News the same way I would have read Pravda back during the day... the truth is more often between the lines, alas, and can only be divined by reading a variety of news sources and seeing where they converge. Which still might be the truth, but is more probable than the rest. Just another day in Soviet America, sigh...

    1. 'tux, taken as an isolated matter, Clapper's directive might be explained the way you suggest. But it is clearly no isolated matter. Remember, just this week, the CIA got into a battle with the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence over releasing documents to the Committee... and absent CIA compliance, the SSCI is almost certainly unable to fulfill its oversight role. The Committee is about to release their tell-all report on Bush administration intelligence misdeeds, and Obama has decided to sign off on the report redacted... redacted by the CIA itself. We are slipping not so gradually into executive-only rule.,, by executive branch members who are utter knuckleheads to put it mildly. Clapper wants the intelligence community to operate not merely secretly but also unsupervised. YMMV, but I find that unacceptable.



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