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Lips sealed: US govt officials banned from talking about leaked documents

Published time: May 09, 2014 12:34
Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann

US officials will soon be banned from citing leaked data in speeches and written documents. The new policy, which is being pushed through by the head of the NSA, will crack down on “sourcing unauthorized disclosures” that harm national security.

A pre-publication review from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence has been released, prohibiting both current and former officials from publicly acknowledging disclosures of classified information. Even if leaks are being discussed by the media, officials must still turn a blind eye to them or face penalties.

“The use of such information in a publication can confirm the validity of an unauthorized disclosure and cause further harm to national security,” the review said. The ban will not only extend to opinion articles, books and term papers, but also to unofficial written material.

Failure to adhere to the new policy “may result in the imposition of civil and administrative penalties, and may result in the loss of security clearances and accesses,” the document says.

Timothy Edgar, a visiting professor at Brown University, told the New York Times that the new policy goes too far by prohibiting former employees from citing news reports in the public domain.

“You’re basically saying people can’t talk about what everyone in the country is talking about,” he said. “I think that is awkward and overly broad in terms of restricting speech.”

This new policy comes off the back of regulations introduced by intelligence chief James Clapper back in April. The head of the US intelligence community introduced regulations that would make consulting journalists without prior permission a fireable offense for intelligence personnel.

“No substantive information should be provided to the media regarding covered matters in the case of unplanned or unintentional contacts,” said the new directive, adding that any incidents would be treated in the same way as a security violation.

The US intelligence community has sought to shore up security following the massive disclosures of classified data by Edward Snowden last year. The former CIA contractor-turned-whistleblower leaked a trove of information, revealing the National Security Agency’s global spy programs.

Following the disclosures, Snowden fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia, where he was granted temporary political asylum. Washington condemned Snowden’s actions, with some politicians branding him a traitor. At present, the US has an extradition order out against him and has charged him under the Espionage Act.

Since the NSA scandal, Washington has reined in its intelligence practices and as of January no longer monitors the private communications of world leaders.

Comments (20)


Janet Cross 12.05.2014 15:22

Americans are waking up and we want the world to know that the decisions made by our government are not our decisions. We don't want war or oil or gun control. We want all men to be free in all countries. We want to see our children grow up, happy and healthy. We are waiting for Jesus return, when peace and love will be restored.


julian 12.05.2014 14:22

Hi Yuu If there is WW3 and it will go Neuclear if it happens The perpetrators will die to .They know this .Thats the irony and the fact. You dont live forever just be prepared just in case


julian 12.05.2014 14:16

Dear Ameficans, you will know its over for you inside America when you are asked to hand in your guns.That is the one and only advantage you have against your govt that other countries dont have. It will be interesting when this happens to see if Americans will kill Americans in America. I feel the choice is not far away.

View all comments (20)
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