By Abbey Zimet
Common Dreams (9/14/17)
Fed up with the “staggering” number of leaks from an uncommonly fractured White House, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has issued a sweeping new call for government-wide training to prevent unauthorized disclosure of both classified and some unclassified information – disclosure, he declared, that “causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people.” With Trump’s White House marked by impressively persistent leaks at every level, McMaster upped the ante by aiming at leakers not just within intelligence agencies but in every department. Requesting “Provision of Training on Unauthorized Disclosures,” he argued, “It will be time well spent to shine a spotlight on the importance of this issue, and engage the workforce in conversation about what it means to be a steward of United States Government information.”
In a move gleefully emblematic of a gang that can’t shoot, leak or evidently do anything else straight, some mutinous, indefatigable rogue staffer promptly leaked the memo to Buzzfeed.
With his call, McMaster is continuing a months-long, to-date-fruitless effort to stop the deluge of leaks. In August, Jeff Sessions condemned leaks “undermining the ability of our government to protect this country,” announced a new FBI unit to squash them, said the Justice Department has tripled its leak investigations from the days of Obama – who was blasted for his pursuit of same – and, in an Orwellian twist, proposed lie detector tests for government employees.
McMaster’s email, sent to over 50 heads of government agencies, sought one-hour, organization-wide trainings next week to discuss “the importance of protecting classified and controlled unclassified information, and measures to prevent and detect unauthorized disclosures”; suggested “training materials” include the 15-minute C-SPAN video of Sessions complaining about leaks, and a Fox News video of an interview with the National Counterintelligence and Security Center director. McMaster’s email was marked “UNCLASSIFIED/FOUO (For Official Use Only).
We know, because in a move gleefully emblematic of a gang that can’t shoot, leak or evidently do anything else straight, some mutinous, indefatigable rogue staffer promptly leaked the memo to Buzzfeed, which ran with it. They wrote a straightforward story about the “broad new anti-leak program,” only taking a sliver of a moment to note, “We got the memo.” They offered no other information on their source – thus, all things being relative these days, inspiring “the confidence of the American people.”
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(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org)