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US Government Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked 336

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-leaks-the-leakers? dept.
Jake writes "The US government's 11-page document on how to get various US government agencies to prevent future leaks has been leaked. It doesn't get any more ironic than that. After the various leaks made by WikiLeaks, the US government understandably wants to limit the number of potential leaks, but their strategy apparently isn't implemented yet. It's clear that the Obama administration is telling federal agencies to take aggressive steps to prevent further leaks. According to the document, these steps include figuring out which employees might be most inclined to leak classified documents, by using psychiatrists and sociologists to assess their trustworthiness. The memo also suggests that agencies require all their employees to report any contacts with members of the news media they may have."
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US Government Strategy To Prevent Leaks Is Leaked

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  • Whats next (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Drivintin (917847) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:05AM (#34814396)
    I think next they should try reverse psychology. Works well with me 5 year old.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:46AM (#34814658)

      fine, DON'T try reverse psychology.

    • by neokushan (932374) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:23PM (#34814942)

      Your ideas and opinions intrigue me, I would like to hear more from you.

    • elephant in the room (Score:5, Interesting)

      by conspirator57 (1123519) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:32PM (#34815008)

      or perhaps the number one thing the government could do to prevent leaks in future would be to... i don't know... *NOT DO ILLEGAL SHIT* or, and i know i'm way off base, *NOT SUBVERT ITS OWN IDEALS OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY*

      But, sadly James Earl Jones already played the US Government:

      Whistler: "I want peace on earth and goodwill toward men."
      Bernard Abbott: "We are the United States Government! We don't do that sort of thing."

      • by drdanny_orig (585847) * on Sunday January 09, 2011 @01:32PM (#34815424)
        Mod parent up, please. Why is this glaringly obvious solution NEVER discussed?
        • by Tikkun (992269)
          Because the conventional wisdom in DC is that the CIA, the State Department and the rest of the government needs to be able to do quasi legal things in order to function.
        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @05:15PM (#34817254)

          Because fascists and other authoritarians believe that bad (and illegal) things must be done by the government to keep society functioning well.

          Interestingly, in the USA, both Democrats and Republicans fit this description, as well as most of the people who vote for them.

      • by satch89450 (186046) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @02:15PM (#34815732) Homepage

        I would go a little farther. The voters of the United States has been promised transparency in government. If the USG kept the promise, there would be nothing to leak. Furthermore, with the sheer amount of information that such transparency would generate, we would instantly be in information overload, so the risk of people actually seeing something embarrassing would be reduced.

        Remember the movie Class Action? "We ask for a couple of things, and the other side sends the Library of Congress. There must be something there they don't want us to find."

  • Ironic? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hardtofindanick (1105361) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:09AM (#34814414)
    Encryption algorithms are also public, that doesn't mean they won't work.
    • Re:Ironic? (Score:4, Funny)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:32AM (#34814546)
      And I'm listening to Alanis Morissette right now. How ironic is that?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This all makes sense. Because simply reporting any media contact isn't a violation of any of their basic human rights. It's perfectly reasonable that who they talk to be monitored, and all government employees should be subjected to regular mental health screening. They have to make sure these people are the right type and not some crackpots who will leak information that the government doesn't want its people to know.

    Silly that anyone would write an article about this, as if it shouldn't be common pract

    • Who decides what is "the right type" though? In my books, you have to be a crackpot to work for the government. Which makes me a crackpot in their books. Who is right? The one with the bigger sacks of money and the heavier array of disinfo catapults.

  • I Wouldn't Worry (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CheeseburgerBrown (553703) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:16AM (#34814458) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure that if anyone were falsely accused of being a leaker, they would no doubt have swift access to just recourse. This is the West, after all.

    If someone ends up in a such a situation and reports the contrary, their testimony is likely tainted because they are a dirty rotten leaker.

    Ultimately, we are all safer somehow.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Just wait. This is going to backfire. Federal employees are going to resent being treated as suspected criminals and probably will react negatively to the profiling and suspicion.

    • Not only that, does psychological profiling even work reliably? How reliable is it? It just strikes me as one of those HR fads that large organizations rush implement before it's really tested.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Nonsense. During the Cold War it was standard to brief military and government employees to be wary of espionage attempts and trust no one.

      If there is anything the internet age should reaffirm about security, it's that trust is naive and stupid, not admirable.

      • by hedwards (940851)
        Apples and oranges, this isn't a threat of similar severity. Plus, there's a tendency of people to interpret that sort of blanket suspicion as a case of everybody doing it and be more likely to let something slip accidentally.
      • by jc42 (318812)

        During the Cold War it was standard to brief military and government employees to be wary of espionage attempts and trust no one.

        Yeah, and people generally went along with it. But there's a major difference between that and the current issue. Back then, there was a real foreign enemy trying to harm us. Today, the purported enemy is just ordinary citizens who are trying to expose their own government's corruption to its own voters. I suspect that a large part of our population understands this. The government employees, who see the corruption first hand, certainly do.

        (Well, OK, in the case of wikileaks, it's mostly citizens of ot

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:19AM (#34814482)
    ...to stop the leaks after the first leaks, have just been sacked. The leaks will now be stopped in a new, and completely different fashion.
  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@@@netzero...net> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:20AM (#34814486) Homepage Journal

    I love knowing how America keeps creeping to become more and more like the Soviet Union with a similar kind of loss of privileges.

    Where the debate really needs to be centered is on two things:

    • What items ought to be kept secret?
    • Does the federal bureaucracy really need to be so big in the first place?

    By far and away too much is classified material. I don't mind having things like the locations of military units and certain other generally time-sensitive information being classified, but there certainly is a whole bunch of stuff being labeled as classified material mainly because it would be embarrassing if the information was disclosed. That stuff should not be protected under an official secrets act and I wish that a harder evaluation would result in trying to decide what exactly should be considered classified material in the first place.

    Speculating that the King of Saudi Arabia is an ass should not be considered an official secret.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      I;m sure the people of Saudi Arabia wouldn't really like it if the official US policy towards them is "Their king is an ass". Just saying. I'm sure the King won't like it either.

      • Given that most people in Saudi Arabia aren't citizens because of extensive use of foreign labor, and the per-capita income of regular citizens is pretty low, I wonder if the citizens are really sympathetic to their king.

      • by smash (1351)
        Maybe the US foreign policy needs to evolve beyond "their king is an ass" then, rather then covering it up and trying to hide it.
        • by bws111 (1216812) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:56PM (#34815170)

          US foreign policy is not "the king is an ass". The opinion of an employee of the US government is that the king is an ass. Or aren't those people allowed to have opinions?

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Thats a good approach, emulate practices and institutions of long lasting totalitarian regimes. That US is becoming one don't mean that have a clue on how to make it last.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:39AM (#34814588)

      yes the federal bureaucracy does need to be it's size. It has to manage 300 million people of conflicting ideals, ideology, desires,etc.

      What most people forget, is that the majority of the laws on the books are there because someone abused someone else, and we seek to prevent it from happening again.

      Common Sense isn't really that common.

      And yes speculation that the king of Saudis arabia is an ass should be kept secret. Your official position is that he is a good king, you can't contradict that view point without you yourself looking like an ass. Unless he does it himself first. How many secrets about your friends do you keep?In any given circle of friends you have that one who you let come along even though very few actually like them. Gossip like that is needed to understand the person behind the power. Such understanding is far beyond your abilities though.

      • by khallow (566160)

        What most people forget, is that the majority of the laws on the books are there because someone abused someone else, and we seek to prevent it from happening again.

        Laws are not equivalent with money spent or the size of the bureaucracy. There are huge distortions in the US economy because of government spending and bureaucracy. A particularly big one is the obstacles to forming a company with 50 or more employees. A lot of onerous regulation kicks in at that point. There's also a host of rent-seeking and other parasitism. For example, US drink companies have used corn syrup for decades because sugar has been made too expensive by nonsensical government subsidy.

        I al

      • by Thing 1 (178996) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @01:01PM (#34815224) Journal
        No, I think the majority of the laws on the books are because some rich people wanted to further abuse the peasants. Look at marijuana law, it was enacted to prop up the forests of William Randolph Hurst. Another angle, they restricted the right to vote from felons, and then made a whole bunch of innocuous acts into felonies. Read the book "Three Felonies a Day", which talks about exactly that; the average citizen commits three felonies a day because the laws are so vaguely written. I disagree with the premise, and I also disagree that the federal government needs to be so large. Or exist at all. I wonder how the EU member states' citizens feel about their (relatively) new overlord?
      • And yes speculation that the king of Saudis arabia is an ass should be kept secret. Your official position is that he is a good king, you can't contradict that view point without you yourself looking like an ass.

        Nope. If the king IS an ass, having the official position that he's not is what makes you look like an ass... wait, actually it makes you BE an ass. If he's an ass and you call him an ass, that makes you.. honest. If he's not an ass and you call him an ass, you're an ass. Hope that helped.

    • by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:52AM (#34814704)

      Classification was originally evolved for military intelligence. Do military intelligence right, and you report only on capabilities, not intentions, opinions, or personalities. A proper MI report describes what assets and liabilities Saudi Arabia has, and stays away from speculating about whether the King or anyone else will use them a certain way. Civilian oversight decides whether someone is an enemy and will use their military assets to attack, not the military (at least that's the way it's supposed to be in the US). If a trained observer notes that the Saudis are selectively putting crews to work at sites that produce lower grade crude oil, that might actually be classified secret, if only to make it harder for the Saudis to figure out who the person generating the report is. But that report shouldn't speculate about why the Saudis might be selectively marketing their lower grade crude and conserving their top grade, let alone go into the observer's opinion of the King's personality.
      Part of the problem here is that civilian persons, including both diplomatic personnel and decision makers, are using the classification system that is only built to work for military intelligence and only built to work if the m.i. process is done right up to the time the decision to classify is made. The civil oversight is using classification to cover their asses, and they go to that mode easily because they're already misunderstanding how classification should work just by thinking it will work for the kind of stuff they put in a report.

    • What do you mean by "more"? The security measures for the flights inside USA are much more obtrusive than these which were for the flights inside USSR.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      "Speculating that the King of Saudi Arabia is an ass should not be considered an official secret."

      Chilling Effects apply to diplomacy, not just whistleblowers.

      I understand the Slashdot preference that all official communication be shouted from the rooftops and general hatred of government, but don't expect people charged with negotiation and alliance building to share those ideas.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross AT yahoo DOT ca> on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:23AM (#34814504)

    How about the United States do a house cleaning on their policies? And how about the United States go back to what the constitution was all about? Maybe then you would not need to worry about this crap! Oh wait that's too simple and all of the agencies would be out of a job. Can't have that now can we!

  • by nblender (741424) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:40AM (#34814596)
    I do some work for a military contractor and the sheer amount of classified information that's flying around is simply beyond astounding... A lot of things that are banal and boring are marked Top Secret in order to prevent sub-contractors from hiring foreign workers... It's not that the information itself is or needs to be Top Secret but marking it so is a way to keep jobs local...
    • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @12:57PM (#34815192)
      Can't the armed forces make rules that subcontracted work cannot be exported out of the country? It's the same effect with less insanity. Hell, even if something like this needed congressional approval or a law of some sort, it's not as though it would be difficult to get it passed.
    • A lot of things that are banal and boring are marked Top Secret in order to prevent sub-contractors from hiring foreign workers... It's not that the information itself is or needs to be Top Secret but marking it so is a way to keep jobs local...

      Nonsense. A lot of things labeled Top Secret are banal and boring because much of the day to day project work most people do is banal and boring even if it is top secret and involves technology, and has to be protected against disclosure due to the possible damage

  • How about (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:42AM (#34814608) Homepage Journal
    not doing things that would hang heavy on the conscience of people, causing them to leak stuff ? not betraying them ? not misusing their trust ?

    then the need for finding 'trustworthy' people who would have to go through security audits, psychiatrists, sociologists, would be at a minimum.

    we are not the age of empires in which dumb lackeys blindly do whatever they are ordered to. people of this age, have conscience compared to the dark ages. you wont be able to make them do evil shit, and then keep their mouth shut, if there is a way for them to blow the whistle.

    but maybe the problem in the recruitment strategy. touting being a democracy that protects freedom, you recruit people to that cause, with patriotic lines. then, they discover that, what they do actually go against what they had had joined the force for .... basically, they are being deceived with shallow excuses and justifications.

    only dumb enough people would buy bullshit. the rest, will leak, regardless of whether you employ armies of psychiatrists, or not.
    • by Thing 1 (178996)
      I've long thought military recruitment strategies were targeted at lesser brains...
      • Re:How about (Score:4, Interesting)

        by cold fjord (826450) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @05:02PM (#34817126)

        I've long thought military recruitment strategies were targeted at lesser brains...

        Your views are uninformed. The American military is on average better educated than the population.

        Who Serves in the U.S. Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers [heritage.org]
        American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor's degree.

        • I think you're confusing education and intelligence. It is the informed opinion of a large segment of the population that joining the military is a stupid thing to do. Not simply uninformed, we're talking about room temperature intelligence quotient. Therefore you would expect a great deal of stupid people in the military. The fact that these stupid people get free college is irrelevant.

          Although I want to say that I don't necessarily believe everyone in the military is stupid. On the contrary, it seems li
  • by Jaktar (975138) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:45AM (#34814652)

    From Wikipedia (which agrees with my military background)
    Unclassified
    Technically not a classification level, but is used for government documents that do not have a classification listed above. Such documents can sometimes be viewed by those without security clearance.

    This document is at the same level as a menu from the kitchen of the White House. Show me documents with Noforn or better and then I'll be concerned.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:45AM (#34814654)

    ...post-WikiLeaks environment.

    Because this sort of thing never happened before WikiLeaks? This just shows that all their security responses are purely reactive and never pro-active, just like the TSA. The threats have always existed, it just goes to show that whoever has been doing risk analysis for these agencies have been completely clueless and still doesn't get it. Although, if anything, by trying to fix the causes and just blaming Wikileaks there is the benefit of at least getting a stronger system which is why I agree with what Wikileaks did.

  • According to the document, these steps include figuring out which employees might be most inclined to leak classified documents, by using psychiatrists and sociologists to assess their trustworthiness.

    Sure, as long as politicians submit to tests assessing their sanity, compassion. raionality and penchant to accumulate power and trample civil rights.

    The memo also suggests that agencies require all their employees to report any contacts with members of the news media they may have.

    Yes, because a leaker is goi

  • The Irony Overwhelms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @11:59AM (#34814742)
    From the summary...
    "...these steps include figuring out which employees might be most inclined to leak classified documents, by using psychiatrists and sociologists to assess their trustworthiness. "

    McCarthy, Stalin, and Mao would all be proud. Those who do not, fundamentally, "think right", will be treated... differently. Never mind the fact that screening of the type were talking about here has a dismal record at predicting behavior. It was designed to predict pathology. The two are, believe it or not, rather different things.
  • ...and that is through making sure it is as homogenious as possible through the use of psychiatrists and sociologists to judge character. The government is of the people indeed.

  • The memo also suggests that agencies require all their employees to report any contacts with members of the news media they may have.

    What happens when you are married to one, or related to one. You have to file a daily report or do they just fire these people. Manning got this because he had unfettered BULK access to information. Focus on how the technology works.

  • in light of what Wikileaks has shown, the US Government is doing a lot of things that are not in the best interests of their Citizens.
  • U.S. Government hires the over educated, at below market rates, and wonders why they "leak", steal and sell at the drop of a hat on todays broadcast...

  • If the source code for a super secret firewall program designed to protect secrets were leaked, THAT would be ironic. This is an unclassified memo.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This document is CLEARLY marked UNCLASSIFIED.

    Not FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY (not for public consumption).
    Not SECRET ( would cause "serious damage" to national security)
    Not TOP SECRET ( would cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security)

    This is a non story.

  • 0. Stop classifying stuff that does not need to be secret.

  • Obama could just get all of them together and "grab a beer" and talk it out. seems to have worked for him in the past. LOL
  • And having trustworthy people takes care of itself.

  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#34815316) Homepage

    "using psychiatrists and sociologists"

    They must be 100% accurate, 100% of the time, or their advice is worthless.

    "agencies require all their employees to report any contacts with members of the news media"

    Maybe, just maybe, the person that leaks something will come up with a way around this rule. Like not reporting the contact.

  • Problem is, the kind of people who will pass such a test with flying colors are exactly the people who should not be given any kind of power - they are the people who do whatever is ordered. Give a psychopath money to do a dirty job and keep her mouth shut and she'll do it. Those are precisely the people that the public has an interest in keeping away from positions of power and authority. Eliminating the whistle blowers is eliminating the non-psychopaths.
  • Just do a Find/Replace on the McCarthyism Protocol? "McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence."

    Investigations to find those "most inclined to leak classified documents" -

    Ooo! Then we can make a BLACKLIST of those people, keep them from working!

    10 History
    20 Learn Lesson
    30 Forget Lesson
    40 GOTO 10

  • At the height of the Just-Shoot-Assange media circus, Glenn Greenwald pointed out [slashdot.org] that the New York Times [nytimes.com] had just spilled the most forbidden, unlawful, immoral, unforgivable secrets of all, on it's front page: imminent troop movements.

    Assange, of course, was being treated as if he'd sent countless troops and allies to their deaths with his leaks, even though the Pentagon disagreed that anybody had been hurt, whenever they were asked. (A few Afghan supporter's names had failed to be redacted in an earlier release of the "war logs"; Wikileaks corrected its processes, and fortunately, there's no news of any of those Afghans being attacked, even verbally.)

    The NYT piece - about upcoming covert action in Pakistan - generated no comment of that sort whatsoever. How can that be?

    Well, the Pentagon, the ground commanders, the Administration, Congressmen - not one of them said a thing. And why not?

    Because it wasn't a "leak": it was a press release that didn't come with any follow-up questions allowed, or any accountability for the plan, the statement, or the subsequent action: completely anonymous.

    All the benefits of a leak and none of the downside.

    "Sauce for the Goose" would require EVERY leak to be followed up with a serious investigation by impartial detectives, and summary dismissal, at minimum, for the leaker. They would prefer, of course, to have complete control of the information and the ability to use it for any reason - public-serving or just partisan advantage - that they wish. Ask Val Wilson.

  • It's not even marked FOYO, For Official Use Only. I don't see where it was leaked other than the howler monkeys at MSNBC saying it is.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @02:01PM (#34815626) Homepage Journal

    The memo also suggests that agencies require all their employees to report any contacts with members of the news media they may have.

    But they've been telling us all along that the wikileaks folks don't qualify as "journalists" and don't deserve the legal protections that most democracies give to "news media". Employees in contact with such online information sources can easily think that such requirements don't apply, since they've been specifically told that such organizations aren't news media.

    Maybe they should think of a better way of expressing what they want their employees to do. Or stop the pretense that, since there are no printing presses involved, people working on informing the public online don't qualify for legal protections such as the US's First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.

  • The only irony (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Phaid (938) on Sunday January 09, 2011 @06:01PM (#34817586) Homepage

    is that the person who thought they were being clever by labeling this a "leak" didn't notice it was an unclassified memo sent to the heads of public agencies.

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