Vast Troves of Classified Info Undermine National Security, Spy Chief Says
Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence, says current classification system strains intelligence agencies and erodes public trust. Vast Troves of Classified Info Undermine National Security, Spy Chief Says
The U.S. intelligence community’s approach to classifying vast amounts of information is so flawed that it harms national security and diminishes public trust in government, according to Avril Haines, President Biden’s director of national intelligence.
The acknowledgment of such concerns about how the nation’s spy agencies choose what information to keep secret under various classification levels is among the most significant by a president’s sitting intelligence chief, government transparency advocates said, and could indicate broader interest in the Biden administration for loosening restrictive access to some of the government’s growing collection of secrets.
“It is my view that deficiencies in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as critical democratic objectives, by impeding our ability to share information in a timely manner” with allies, policy makers and the public, Ms. Haines wrote in a letter earlier this month to Sens. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.) and Jerry Moran (R., Kan.), which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The letter was in response to an October request for information from the senators, who have pushed for overhauls of the declassification system to assist federal agencies struggling to process a large volume of secret information that is no longer sensitive, such as backlogged historical records Congress has said must be released. Messrs. Wyden and Moran have said classification costs taxpayers about $18.5 billion annually.
It is not publicly known how much information is classified by the government, but watchdogs and open-government activists believe such a trove is likely to include billions of records and is rapidly expanding, in part because of the explosion of digital communications.
Such secrecy, Ms. Haines wrote, “reduces the intelligence community’s (IC) capacity to effectively support senior policy maker decision-making, and further erodes the basic trust that our citizens have in their government. It is a fundamentally important issue that we must address.”
Despite numerous reviews looking at problems with classification, Ms. Haines said current efforts to address the exponential growth of classified material “are simply not sufficient.”
Government transparency advocates have argued for decades that the classification regime among intelligence agencies is overly restrictive and prevents the public from knowing what the U.S. government is doing on a range of security issues, such as drone strikes in foreign countries, surveillance practices at home and abroad, and offensive cyber operations.
Often unflattering information—such as civilian deaths from drone strikes—only comes to light after Freedom of Information lawsuits from media organizations, or if an official risks years of jail time by leaking classified material.
U.S. national security officials, while acknowledging some shortcomings, have historically defended expansive classification practices as necessary to their core intelligence collection missions.
“Some of the most consequential decisions our government makes are related to national security,” said Alex Abdo, a lawyer with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, which advocates for more government transparency.
‘Some of the most consequential decisions our government makes are related to national security.’
— Alex Abdo, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Ms. Haines, 52 years old, is the first woman director of national intelligence, a job that oversees 18 intelligence agencies and units, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, which employ hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors.
She has previously expressed concerns about the classification system in intelligence agencies, but never before as starkly or substantively. In a book chapter published last year, but written before she became the nation’s intelligence chief, Ms. Haines identified overclassification as a problem in part because “it actually encourages leaking.”
In her letter, Ms. Haines included two declassified efforts under way at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Department of State to address the intelligence community’s classification issues, both of which involve efforts to modernize and digitize records to make them easier to search and identify in order to more quickly release material to the public.
“Director Haines clearly recognizes that the current broken classification system harms U.S. national security while eroding the public’s trust in government,” Messrs. Wyden and Moran said in a joint statement.
The senators said Ms. Haines had offered to work with them on overhauls, and that they had asked her to coordinate with the White House on potential updates to the presidential executive orders governing the classification system.
An aide to Mr. Wyden said additional examples of efforts to improve declassification work included in Ms. Haines’s letter were shared with Messrs. Wyden and Moran but marked “for official use only,” a government designation assigned to documents that, while not technically a classification level, limits the public’s access to them.
A senior intelligence official said those examples were downgraded to that level to enable wider circulation in Congress, but because they include information about pending budgetary decisions, they couldn’t be made public.
Ongoing declassification review efforts are focused on identifying topics that hold significant public interest, the intelligence official said.
About four million people have some level of security clearance in the U.S., including about one million contractors, according to recent federal estimates. The number has fluctuated but drawn bipartisan scrutiny in Congress for years amid worries of insider threats—employees who steal classified national security information and disclose it to a foreign power or to the public.
Mr. Abdo said the Biden administration had taken encouraging steps over the past year to be more transparent, including the declassification of an intelligence report on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi—which had been written during the Trump administration but never released—and the decision by Mr. Biden not to assert executive privilege over documents from the Trump White House related to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. But Mr. Abdo said he was still skeptical about the Biden administration’s overall commitment to overhauling the classification regime.
“People lose their jobs or get prosecuted if they release information that they shouldn’t, but they face no consequences for failing to disclose something the public needs to know,” Mr. Abdo said. “Unsurprisingly, that has bred a culture of secrecy in government.”
Battles over classification have recently centered on former officials attempting to publish books about their time in government that are subjected to a process known as pre-publication review. Typically, government employees and contractors with access to classified information must submit any published works—even works of fiction—to their agency for reviews.
Some former Trump administration officials have sought to publish books about their encounters with the former president, including former Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who sued the Pentagon in November for redacting portions of his manuscript.
Lawyers in a separate case—including Mr. Abdo of the Knight First Amendment Institute—that involves several former intelligence officials who have sought to publish writings on their government service have appealed to the Supreme Court after losing in lower courts.
Their lawsuit argues that the pre-publication review is overly restrictive and violates freedom-of-speech protections. The government has countered that the reviews don’t violate the First Amendment and are necessary to protect national security.
San Francisco’s Historic Surveillance Law May Get Watered Down
Teen Cyber Prodigy Stumbled Onto Flaw Letting Him Hijack Teslas
Vast Troves of Classified Info Undermine National Security, Spy Chief Says
Ultimate Resource On Solana Outages And DDoS Attacks
Japan Defense Ministry Finds Security Threat In Hack
Alibaba Admits It Was Slow To Report Software Bug After Beijing Rebuke
US Ransomware Attack Suspect Hails From A Small Ukrainian Town
Google Issues Warning For 2 Billion Chrome Users
Can The IRS Be Trusted With Your Data?
Homeland Security Offers Hackers A Bounty To Find Bugs
Tech Giants Apple, Microsoft, Amazon And Others Warn of Widespread Software Flaw
Apple Sues NSO Group To Curb The Abuse Of State-Sponsored Spyware
How Crypto Vigilantes Are Hunting Scams In A $100 Billion Market
Verizon is Tracking iPhone Users by Default And There’s Nothing Apple Can Do. How to Turn It Off
Massive Encrypted Cellphone Hack Gave Police A Window On Cocaine, Cash And Killers
GoDaddy Breached – Plaintext Passwords – 1.2M Affected!!
Amazon’s Twitch Hack Shows Top Gamers Rake In Six-Figure Payouts
The Mercenary Threat of U.S. Hackers-for-Hire
A Hospital Hit By Hackers, A Baby In Distress: The Case Of The First Alleged Ransomware Death
Google’s Chrome Browser Is Under Active Attack, Patch Now!!!!
How Hackers Use Our Brains Against Us And How We Can Fight Back
AT&T 5G Upgrade Risks Silencing Home Alarms Reliant On Old Tech
Coinbase Users Angry With Customer Support After Funds Disappear From Accounts
Apple Cyber Flaw Allows Silent iPhone Hack Through iMessage
Biden Urges CEOs To Improve U.S. Cybersecurity After Attacks
How Hackers Hammered Australia After China Ties Turned Sour
Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Push Brings Cyber Concerns
Hacker Claims To Steal Data Of 100 Million T-Mobile Customers
Accenture Confirms Hack After LockBit Ransomware Data Leak Threats
CIA Weighs Creating Special China Unit In Bid To Out-Spy Beijing
Israel’s Mossad Intelligence Agency Is Seeking To Hire A Crypto Expert
US Taps Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Others To Help Fight Ransomware, Cyber Threats
US Drops Visa Fraud Cases Against Five Chinese Researchers
Want To Invest In Cybersecurity? Here Are Some ETFs To Consider
How To Protect Your Online Privacy While Working From Home
What Hackers Can Learn About You From Your Social-Media Profile
Biden Administration Blames Hackers Tied To China For Microsoft CyberAttack Spree
US Fights Ransomware With Crypto Tracing, $10 Million Bounties
Faces Are The Next Target For Fraudsters
Russia ‘Cozy Bear’ Breached GOP As Ransomware Attack Hit
Advertising Company Will Use Its Billboards To Track Passing Cellphones
REvil Ransomware Hits 200 Companies In MSP Supply-Chain Attack
What It Will Take To Protect Cities Against Cyber Threats
Home Security Company ADT Betting On Google Partnership To Build Revenue
Carnegie Cyber Kids Academy. World’s Most Prestigious Cyber Defense Training Facility
How To Opt Out Of Amazon’s Bandwidth-Sharing Sidewalk Network
Carnival Discloses Breach of Personal Data On Guests And Crew
UK Cyber Chief Cameron Says Ransomware Key Online Threat
The FBI Secretly Ran The Anom Messaging Platform, Yielding Hundreds Of Arrests In Global Sting
Federal Reserve Hacked More Than 50 Times In 4 Years
All of JBS’s US Beef Plants Were Forced Shut By Cyberattack
It Wasn’t Until Anonymous Payment Systems That Ransomware Became A Problem
How To Use Ian Coleman’s BIP39 Tool For Finding Bitcoin Addresses And Private Keys From A Seed Phrase
A New Ransomware Enters The Fray: Epsilon Red
This Massive Phishing Campaign Delivers Password-Stealing Malware Disguised As Ransomware
Biden Proposes Billions For Cybersecurity After Wave of Attacks
Mobile Crypto ‘Mining’ App Possibly Connected To Personal Data Leak
Ireland Confirms Second Cyber Attack On Health System
US Unveils Plan To Protect Power Grid From Foreign Hackers
Hackers Breach Thousands of Security Cameras, Exposing Tesla, Jails, Hospitals
A Hacker Was Selling A Cybersecurity Exploit As An NFT. Then OpenSea Stepped In
Clubhouse And Its Privacy & Security Risk
Using Google’s ‘Incognito’ Mode Fails To Prevent Tracking
Kia Motors America Victim of Ransomware Attack Demanding $20M In Bitcoin, Report Claims
The Long Hack: How China Exploited A U.S. Tech Supplier
Clubhouse Users’ Raw Audio May Be Exposed To Chinese Partner
Hacker Changed Chemical Level In Florida City’s Water System
UK Merger Watchdog Suffers 150 Data Breaches In Two Years
KeepChange Foils Bitcoin Theft But Loses User Data In Sunday Breach
Hacker Refuses To Hand Police Password For Seized Wallet With $6.5M In Bitcoin
SonicWall Says It Was Victim of ‘Sophisticated’ Hack
Tor Project’s Crypto Donations Increased 23% In 2020
Read This Now If Your Digital Wallet Which Holds Your Crypto-currencies Can Be Accessed Through Cellular, Wifi, Or Bluetooth
Armed Robbers Steal $450K From Hong Kong Crypto Trader
Is Your iPhone Passcode Off Limits To The Law? Supreme Court Ruling Sought
Researchers Warn 3 Apps Have Been Stealing Crypto Undetected For A Year
Ways To Prevent Phishing Scams In 2020
The Pandemic Turbocharged Online Privacy Concerns
US Treasury Breached By Foreign-Backed Hackers
FireEye Hack Portends A Scary Era Of Cyber-Insecurity
How FinCEN Became A Honeypot For Sensitive Personal Data
Apple And Google To Stop X-Mode From Collecting Location Data From Users’ Phones
Surge In Physical Threats During Pandemic Complicates Employee Security Efforts
Imagine A Nutrition Label—for Cybersecurity
Cybercriminals Attack GoDaddy-based Cryptocurrency Platforms
Biden Team Lacks Full U.S. Cybersecurity Support In Transition Fracas
Nasdaq To Buy Anti-Financial Crime Firm Verafin For $2.75 Billion
Mysterious Software Bugs Were Used To Hack iPhones and Android Phones and No One Will Talk About It
Dark Web Hackers Say They Hold Keys To 10,000 Robinhood Accounts #GotBitcoin
Hackers Steal $2.3 Million From Trump Wisconsin Campaign Account
Crypto Scammers Deface Trump Campaign Website One Week From Elections
Telecoms Protocol From 1975 Exploited To Target 20 Crypto Executives
With Traders Far From Offices, Banks Bring Surveillance To Homes
Financial Systems Set Up To Monitor Unemployment Insurance Fraud Are Being Overloaded (#GotBlockchain?)
A Millionaire Hacker’s Lessons For Corporate America
Container Shipping Line CMA CGM Says Data Possibly Stolen In Cyberattack
Major Hospital System Hit With Cyberattack, Potentially Largest In U.S. History
Hacker Releases Information On Las Vegas-Area Students After Officials Don’t Pay Ransom
Russian Troll Farms Posing As African-American Support For Donald Trump
US Moves To Seize Cryptocurrency Accounts Linked To North Korean Heists
These Illicit SIM Cards Are Making Hacks Like Twitter’s Easier
Uber Exec Allegedly Concealed 2016 Hack With $100K BTC ‘Bug Bounty’ Pay-Off
Senate Panel’s Russia Probe Found Counterintelligence Risks In Trump’s 2016 Campaign
Bockchain Based Surveillance Camera Technology Detects Crime In Real-Time
Trump Bans TicToc For Violating Your Privacy Rights While Giving US-Based Firm Go Ahead (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Offers Money To Reel In TikTok Creators
How A Facebook Employee Helped Trump Win—But Switched Sides For 2020
Facebook Rebuffs Barr, Moves Ahead on Messaging Encryption
Facebook Ad Rates Fall As Coronavirus Undermines Ad Spending
Facebook Labels Trump Posts On Grounds That He’s Inciting Violence
Crypto Prediction Markets Face Competition From Facebook ‘Forecasts’ (#GotBitcoin?)
Coronavirus Is The Pin That Burst Facebook And Google Online Ads Business Bubble
OpenLibra Plans To Launch Permissionless Fork Of Facebook’s Stablecoin (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Warns Investors That Libra Stablecoin May Never Launch (#GotBitcoin?)
FTC Approves Roughly $5 Billion Facebook Settlement (#GotBitcoin?)
How Facebook Coin’s Big Corporate Backers Will Profit From Crypto
Facebook’s Libra Is Bad For African Americans (#GotBitcoin?)
A Monumental Fight Over Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Is Coming (#GotBitcoin?)
Alert! 540 Million Facebook Users’ Data Exposed On Amazon Servers (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Bug Potentially Exposed Unshared Photos of Up 6.8 Million Users (#GotBitcoin?)
Facebook Says Millions of Users’ Passwords Were Improperly Stored in Internal Systems (#GotBitcoin?)
Advertisers Allege Facebook Failed to Disclose Key Metric Error For More Than A Year (#GotBitcoin?)
Ad Agency CEO Calls On Marketers To Take Collective Stand Against Facebook (#GotBitcoin?)
Thieves Can Now Nab Your Data In A Few Minutes For A Few Bucks (#GotBitcoin?)
New Crypto Mining Malware Beapy Uses Leaked NSA Hacking Tools: Symantec Research (#GotBitcoin?)
Equifax, FICO Team Up To Sell Your Financial Data To Banks (#GotBitcoin?)
Cyber-Security Alert!: FEMA Leaked Data Of 2.3 Million Disaster Survivors (#GotBitcoin?)
DMV Hacked! Your Personal Records Are Now Being Transmitted To Croatia (#GotBitcoin?)
Lithuanian Man Pleads Guilty In $100 Million Fraud Against Google, Facebook (#GotBitcoin?)
Hack Alert! Buca Di Beppo, Owned By Earl Enterprises Suffers Data Breach Of 2M Cards (#GotBitcoin?)
SEC Hack Proves Bitcoin Has Better Data Security (#GotBitcoin?)
Maxine Waters (D., Calif.) Rises As Banking Industry’s Overseer (#GotBitcoin?)
FICO Plans Big Shift In Credit-Score Calculations, Potentially Boosting Millions of Borrowers (#GotBitcoin?)
Our Facebook Page
Your Questions And Comments Are Greatly Appreciated.
Monty H. & Carolyn A.