by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News, Special Contributor to TheBlackVault.com
All employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are required to obtain authorization before disclosing any intelligence-related information to the public.
“All ODNI personnel are required to submit all official and non-official information intended for public release for review,” says ODNI Instruction 80.04 on “Pre-publication Review of Information to be Publicly Released.” The Instruction was newly updated on April 8.
Like the new Intelligence Community policy on Media Contacts (Intelligence Directive Bars Unauthorized Contacts with News Media, Secrecy News, April 21), the ODNI pre-publication review policy does not distinguish between classified and unclassified information.
“The goal of pre-publication review is to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information,” the Instruction says, whether the information is classified or not. It applies broadly to any information generated by ODNI “that discusses operations, business practices, or information related to the ODNI, the IC, or national security.”
The Instruction is binding on current and former ODNI employees, as well as contractors.
Since it pertains to “information” and not just documents, the Instruction also requires employees to gain approval prior to participation in “open discussion venues such as forums, panels, round tables, and question and answer sessions.”
“Pre-publication review must be conducted before any uncleared personnel can receive the information,” the Instruction states.
In order to support a request for pre-publication review, requesters are advised to provide unclassified sources for their proposed disclosures. “ODNI personnel must not use sourcing that comes from known leaks, or unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information.”
Official disclosures by ODNI employees must be reviewed by the ODNI Public Affairs Office to ensure that they are “consistent with the official ODNI position or message.” (Unofficial disclosures, such as privately-authored books, op-eds or blogs are exempt from this consistency requirement.)
The pre-publication review requirement is not optional.
“Failure to comply with this Instruction may result in the imposition of civil and administrative penalties, and may result in the loss of security clearances and accesses.”
The newly updated Instruction will no doubt inhibit informal contacts between ODNI employees and members of the general public, as it is intended to do. Whether that is a wise policy, and whether such indiscriminate barriers to the public serve the real interests of ODNI and the U.S. intelligence community, are separate questions.
Update: ODNI recently published a heavily redacted version of Intelligence Community Directive 304 on “Human Intelligence” (ODNI Seeks to Obscure CIA Role in Human Intelligence, Secrecy News, April 28).
Those redactions were a mistake, an ODNI official said yesterday. The full, unredacted text of the Directive was posted this week on the ODNI website.