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Federal Prosecutors Tempt the Streisand Effect 100

Posted by timothy
from the don't-think-of-a-classified-pink-elephant dept.
decora writes "As the case of NSA IT guru Thomas Andrews Drake nears trial, the fur has been flying between the defense and prosecution lawyers. Earlier this week the judge ordered the sealing of a defense motion because the government claimed it contained classified information. The problem? The document had been sitting on the Federation of American Scientists website for several days. Another problem: the document is marked 'Unclassified' in big bold letters at the top of the page."
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Federal Prosecutors Tempt the Streisand Effect

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  • Re:Furthermore... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dwillden (521345) on Friday March 25, 2011 @09:25AM (#35610428) Homepage
    No it doesn't. FOUO is a handling Caveat not a Classification. It's not a caveat applicable to classified material because their handling is by default different and restrictive. The document is marked unclassified because it is an unclassified document used/created in an environment where classified materials are extensively used or created, thus it needs to be clearly marked so as to not get it confused with or mixed in with classified materials. The information also meets one or more of the requirements for exemption from FOIA requests, thus the FOUO handling Caveat is applied, which mainly means that FAS shouldn't have gotten it in the first place.
  • by braeldiil (1349569) on Friday March 25, 2011 @09:33AM (#35610536)

    It doesn't appear the government has asserted the document is classified - that's a term of art meaning that the release of the data would compromise national security in some way. Instead, they've declared that the data was marked For Official Use Only, which means the data is unclassified, but not for wide dissemination.

    Let's break it down. We have classified information, which is data that, if released, would affect the national security. This determination is made by the President or directly appointed representatives only - I think Deputy Secretary of the Army/Navy/whatever is the lowest level with classification authority. Everyone else is merely applying the policies as determined by the originating authority. So I, as a low-level contractor, cannot unilaterally decide to classify a piece of information. Instead, I apply a predetermined set of rules (does it come from system A or mention topic B) to data I sort, and mark it appropriately.

    For classified data, there are three broad groupings - Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Secret has a subcategory of NoForn - not to be shared with foreign governments. Top Secret has a bazillion "code-word" subcategories - my favorite was Cosmic Top Secret.

    There is also a category of unclassifed information that should not be in wide release. This is information that would not impact national security, but should still be controlled. The classic example is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Leaking your address and social wouldn't impact national security, and neither would leaking your medical records or job evaluations. But I think we'd all agree this information should be kept out of the public eye, so it's marked FOUO. Not classified, but still not for dissemination.

    The other category of FOUO information tends to be operational details for a command. This would include unit movements, detailed meeting schedules, specific evaluation criteria, etc. The stuff that, in a corporation, would be tagged Company Propriatary.

    Finally, there is unclassified information that is treated as classified. This is generally any build media used for classified systems. The media itself isn't classified - it's straight from the vender. But once we have it, we treat it as if it's classified at the level of the system it was used to build. That way, no one can modify the unclassified source material without already having access to the classifed data.

  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Friday March 25, 2011 @10:16AM (#35611094)

    I can see how a classified document might get a FOUO marking...

    Well you'd be wrong. Only unclassified documents can get FOUO. Classified information, by definition, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act so FOUO would never occur with classified info.

    http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/520001r.pdf [dtic.mil]

    Paragraph AP3.2 -- AP3.2.1.1. "For Official Use Only (FOUO)" is a designation that is applied to unclassified information that may be exempt from mandatory release to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)...

  • by Jumperalex (185007) on Friday March 25, 2011 @11:09AM (#35611734)

    Repeat after me: you are wrong. Content can most certainly determine classification with no regard to the method. Troop movements (dates, locations) aren't classified because of the source, but because if the enemy knows the info they can act. What you are thinking about is intelligence data which is *typically* classified due to the source because it might give the enemy clues about how to prevent further intel gathering. But sometimes, the over riding concern still is letting the enemy know that we know it at all, and not how we know it. Other things like weaknesses in weapon systems, Tactics Techniques and Procedurs (TTP) are also classified because of the content and not some "method of acquisition".

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