Lt. General James R. Clapper, Jr., the president’s nominee for director of National Intelligence, is taking a hard line on information security, but only where it counts.
On the one hand, he’s taken a pledge for greater transparency regarding the intelligence budget, including its military component, which over the years has been kept secret from the public in a remarkably capricious way. Steven Aftergood, editor of the indispensable Secrecy News, has the story and offers brief analysis.
On the other hand, Clapper is demonstrating toughness on protecting information that truly deserves classified status. A question from Senator Kit Bond—submitted and answered in written form for Clapper’s confirmation hearings—produced this terse—and startling— response:
Question: A February 2000 report by the CIA Inspector General found that former DCI John Deutch processed a large volume of highly classified information on several unclassified computers that were connected to the internet. Mr. Deutch took no steps to restrict unauthorized access to this information and knowingly put a volume of our most sensitive national security information at risk. Despite this offense and the fact that he pled guilty to mishandling classified information, the Committee still receives reports that he is being granted access to highly classified information.
a. Will you ensure that Mr. Deutch is never allowed to again have access to sensitive or classified U.S. information in any forum or medium?
b. If, despite your best efforts to the contrary, another agency or Department of the U.S. government grants Mr. Deutch access to classified information, will you report such an event to the Congressional Intelligence Oversight Committees?
Answer: Yes to both.