The Obama Administration has ordered review of handling of secret government documents in view of the release of massive sets of cables WikiLeaks — a whistleblower website — which the U.S. has termed as illegal and criminal.
The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in a memo has told various U.S. agencies to establish security assessment teams to ensure that employees do not have broader access to classified information than what is needed to do their jobs.
“Any unauthorised disclosure of classified information is a violation of our law and compromises our national security,” the OMB Director Jacob Lew, said in the memo.
According to officials familiar with the memo, the review will be led by OMB, the Information Security Oversight Office and the Office of Director of National Intelligence.
In his memo, Mr. Lew called on the heads of all federal agencies and departments to establish special security assessment teams to conduct the reviews.
Each team should include counterintelligence experts as well as security and information assurance experts, the directive noted.
Mr. Lew’s memo requires that each agency evaluate their specific security measures for restricting access to classified government systems.
It also ordered agency heads to ensure that employees can only access data that’s required for their jobs.
As part of the review, agencies have been asked to implement restrictions on the availability and use of removable media on classified government networks.
“Any failure by agencies to safeguard classified information “is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the memo said.
State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowley said: “We will hold the people responsible for this action accountable. And that — that investigation continues.”
“Someone, you know, within the United States government with access to this information, downloaded it and provided it, you know, to parties outside of the US government. We believe that is a violation of regulations, that’s a compromise of information and that is a crime.
“And we are investigating it as such, as we are prepared to prosecute, if we can build a case. And that is an effort that is ongoing,” he said.
“We are treating this seriously. We see it as a crime. But the unauthorised disclosure of information in and of itself is not a terrorist act,” Mr. Crowley said in response to a question.