The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
December 01, 2010

FACT SHEET: U.S. Government Mitigation Efforts in Light of the Recent Unlawful Disclosure of Classified Information

As part of an integrated federal government approach to respond to the unlawful and irresponsible disclosure of classified information by Wikileaks, the National Security Staff has been coordinating an interagency effort to examine the policies and practices surrounding the handling of classified information, and to put in place safeguards to prevent such a compromise from happening again.

The 9/11 attacks and their aftermath revealed gaps in intra-governmental information sharing. During the past decade, departments and agencies have tried to eliminate those gaps, resulting in considerable improvement in information-sharing. At the same time, federal policies underscore the importance of the existing prohibitions, restrictions, and requirements regarding the safeguarding of classified information. Our national security requires that sensitive information be maintained in confidence to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland and our partners. Protecting information critical to our nation's security is the responsibility of each individual and agency granted access to classified information.


On December 1, 2010, the National Security Advisor named Russell Travers to serve as the National Security Staff's Senior Advisor for Information Access and Security Policy. Travers will lead a comprehensive effort to identify and develop the structural reforms needed in light of the Wikileaks breach. His responsibilities will include:

Additionally, the President's Intelligence Advisory Board (PIAB) will take an independent look at the means by which the Executive Branch as a whole shares and protects classified information. While the PIAB's traditional mandate is the examination of intelligence issues, the members' requisite security clearances, deep understanding of the wider United States Government national security mission and appreciation of the scope and complexity of classified government computer networks, make it particularly well-suited to immediately undertake this U.S. Government-wide review. As a part of this undertaking, the PIAB will:

These efforts by the NSS and the PIAB will complement actions being taken across the Federal Government. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has directed each department or agency that handles classified information establish a security assessment team consisting of counterintelligence, security, and information assurance experts to review the agency's implementation of procedures for safeguarding classified information against improper disclosures. The OMB has directed that each review should include (without limitation) evaluation of the agency's configuration of classified government systems to ensure that users do not have broader access than is necessary to do their jobs effectively, as well as implementation of restrictions on usage of, and removable media capabilities from, classified government computer networks. The OMB, the Information Security Oversight Office, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will stand up processes to evaluate, and to assist agencies in their review of security practices with respect to the protection of classified information.

Prior to the issuance of this OMB Directive, several agencies had proactively initiated measures to further safeguard classified information and networks. The following are examples of the numerous mitigation efforts underway across the interagency.


The Secretary of State has commissioned a review of State Department security procedures. The Under Secretary for Management has assembled a team of senior management professionals in all related areas to conduct a thorough review of current policies and procedures to ensure that they are fully abreast of the challenges faced. Their efforts will be coordinated with the Bureau of Intelligence and Research to ensure that a measures taken strike the correct balance between the critical need to protect classified information and the equally compelling requirement to ensure that it is shared with those who need it in their work to advance our national security.

This review has already reaffirmed the Department's policy of deploying "thin client" computer units without removable media options and limiting the ability to download material from classified terminals to only approved and controlled circumstances.

The Department will also deploy an automated tool that will continuously monitor the classified network to detect anomalies that would not be readily apparent. This capability will be backed up by a professional staff who will promptly analyze these anomalies to ensure that they do not represent threats to the system.

The mandatory annual training and recertification requirement that all employees must satisfy is being reviewed to see if additional material needs to be added to bolster this on-going effort.

In the interim, the Department has suspended access to the Net Centric Diplomacy (NCD) database of diplomatic reporting , and its classified "ClassNet" web sites and SharePoint sites previously accessible through the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), while retaining access via the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.


On August 12, 2010, Defense Secretary Robert Gates commissioned two reviews to determine what policy, procedural and/or technological shortfalls contributed to the unauthorized disclosure to the Wikileaks website. He specifically directed an assessment to determine if the DoD had appropriately balanced restrictions associated with information security and the need to provide our front-line personnel with the information needed to accomplish their assigned missions.

As a result of these two reviews, a number of findings and recommendations are in the process of being assessed and implemented, including the following:

Individual DoD components are taking additional action as relevant and appropriate, ranging from random physical inspections to enabling new security features on networks. Leadership reinforcement of workforce responsibilities and new initiatives to safeguard information are key components of DoD's mitigation efforts. Department-wide, the Pentagon is accelerating its publication of policy issuances related to the information security program as well as focusing increased attention on detecting potential insider threats.


The ODNI is working as part of the integrated whole of government approach to assist agencies in their review of security practices.

In coordination with the larger OMB effort, ODNI is developing recommendations to enhance security within the Intelligence Community (IC), to include:

Source: The White House