Date: Mon, Dec 6, 2010
Dear Steven, at DHS we are getting regular messages like the one below. It has even been suggested that if it is discovered that we have accessed a classified wikileaks cable on our personal computers, that will be a security violation. So, my grandmother would be allowed to access the cables, but not me. This seems ludicrous. As someone who has spent many years with the USG dealing with senior officials of foreign governments, it seems to me that the problem faced by CRS researchers (and raised by you below) is going to be widespread across our government if we follow this policy. Part of making informed judgments about what a foreign government or leader will do or think about something is based on an understanding and analysis of what information has gone into their own deliberative processes. If foreign government workers know about something in the Wikileaks documents, which clearly originated with the U.S., then they will certainly (and reasonably) assume that their US counterparts will know about it too, including the staffers. If we don't, they will assume that we simply do not care, are too arrogant, stupid or negligent to find and read the material, or are so unimportant that we've been intentionally left out of the information loop. In any such instance, senior staff will be handicapped in their preparation and in their inter-governmental relationships. I think more damage will be done by keeping the federal workforce largely in the dark about what other interested parties worldwide are going to be reading and analyzing. It does not solve the problem to let only a small coterie of analysts review documents that may be deemed relevant to their own particular "stovepiped" subject area. Good analysis requires finding and putting together all the puzzle pieces.
Very respectfully, XXXXXXXX
MEMORANDUM FOR: HSIN Users
FROM: Donna Roy, OCIO/Information Sharing
SUBJECT: Classified Information Security Reminder
DATE: December 3, 2010
In light of recent material that has been published by WikiLeaks and other media sources, it is important to remind all HSIN users that merely because classified information appears in the public domain does not mean that the information has been declassified by proper authority.
HSIN users need to be aware that the Department of Homeland Security takes reports of the deliberate and unauthorized disclosure of classified material very seriously. Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information (December 29, 2009), Section 1.1.(c), states "Classified Information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information."
HSIN contractors and users must not knowingly access, download or attempt to download, from any unclassified system, any information from a public web-site that is believed to be classified, nor should they comment or confirm the degree of sensitivity of such information, or, discuss the content in a potentially classified document with persons who would not otherwise be authorized access. This guidance extends to the Departmentís unclassified computer network, including HSIN. HSIN users are reminded that if any classified material that has not been declassified by proper authority is uploaded in HSIN, it is considered a security incident as serious as any other and will be treated as such.
All media inquiries should be forwarded to the Office of Public Affairs at 202-282-8010. For all other questions, please send your query to firstname.lastname@example.org.