The White House is lying about correctly safeguarding classified information

Posted on June 26, 2007

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Representative Henry Waxman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is back at it, and this time he’s threatening to subpeona White House officials on June 28th (two days from today) to get answers.

In a letter to Fred Fielding, Counsel to the President, Rep. Waxman lays out his case that the White House and Office of the Vice President are not adhering to the President’s own Executive Orders regarding the safeguarding of national secrets. In the letter, Rep. Waxman writes that:

White House spokesperson Dana Perino said: “The president and the vice president are complying with all the rules and regulations regarding the handling of classified material and making sure that it is safeguarded and protected.”

Unfortunately, there is a great deal of evidence, from Karl Rove receiving a renewed security clearance against the exact directives of the President, White House security officers being blocked from performing their security inspections, the disclosure of more-classified-than-Top-Secret SCI information to non-cleared junior aides without the required followup and corrective actions occurring, and permitting personal Blackberrys and cell phones into SCIFs against the security rules, that the White House and Office of the Vice President are not “complying with all the rules and regulations.”

I’ve written extensively about this issue repeatedly and in depth (see the list of links below for all the other stories on this topic) because it is a very serious issue for the nation. The President is not following his own security directives (Executive Order 12958, amended by EO13292) and is permitting the Vice President’s office to ignore them as well, and in the process is setting a very poor example for every other agency, department, and independent group overseen by the Executive Branch. Based on what is known thus far, the claim that “the only part of Executive Order 12958 that was not being followed by the White House and the Vice President’s office was the ‘small portion’ giving oversight responsibilities to the information Security Oversight Office of the National Archives” appears disengenuous at best and a bald-faced lie at worst.

Actively compromising our nation’s secrets is a federal crime. So is passively allowing those secrets to be compromised. And the penalties range from losing your job (and security clearance) to paying fines, imprisonment, and in extreme cases, execution. There is a reason this is the case – the power of the United States, to say nothing of the nation’s security, is at risk whenever secrets are revealed. Trade negotiations could collapse, CIA agents in other governments could be revealed, delicate diplomatic contacts could be spoiled, wars could be started because of the revealing of national secrets.

And when the White House and the Office of the Vice President, the two offices privy to the highest, most important secrets of our nation, fail to take the necessary legal precautions to ensure the security of those secrets, it potentially places the United States’ power at risk.

Other links on this topic:
Security office’s experts are not stereotypical bureaucrats
Executive Offices exempt from Executive Orders
National secrecy Executive Orders vs. the Office fo the Vice President
Security failures at the White House

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