QUANTICO, Virginia – Unauthorized Disclosures and Whistleblowers. What is the difference and why is it important that Americans in charge of classified and controlled unclassified information (CUI) understand the difference? In either case, how is national security affected?
DOD Unauthorized Disclosure Program Management Office (UDPMO) Chief Henry Nelson responded to questions from his office at the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA) while citing a series of unauthorized disclosure cases, including a case involving two infamous people known to the American and international public. .
The crimes committed by Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning – responsible for one of the largest incidents of unauthorized disclosure in US history – began when Manning leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Assange for publication on the WikiLeaks website. Classified State Department diplomatic cables, major action reports filed by US troops and assessments on Guantanamo Bay detention camp detainees, and visual images such as video footage of an airstrike which killed civilians, were among Manning’s massive uploads to a Wikileaks airdrop site.
“We don’t know what the repercussions will be, but we do know that the impacts of unauthorized disclosure are extremely detrimental to national security,” Nelson said in a recent interview. “DOD civilians, military, and contractors have access to some of the most sensitive and confidential information. It is a violation of law and of the oath of office to disclose, in any manner, non-public DOD information – classified or controlled unclassified – to anyone without the required security clearance, specific need knowledge and a legitimate governmental objective. By definition, that would be an unauthorized disclosure. Disclosure of information in violation of these precepts weakens the department’s ability to protect the nation’s security against its adversaries.
This unauthorized disclosure of classified or CUI information to an unauthorized recipient can occur in a number of ways. It may be disclosed intentionally, negligently, or inadvertently through leaks, data dumps, espionage, and improper safeguarding of national security information. When classified information is involved, the unauthorized disclosure can be categorized as a type of security incident, characterized as an offense or a violation depending on the severity of the incident.
Nelson went on to cite examples – including recent and lesser-known cases – of unauthorized disclosure related to the release of classified information and CUI into the public domain via products such as podcasts, print articles, articles on the Internet, books, magazines, speeches, television. shows, blogs and publications.
In a Maryland case, Mark Unkenholz – a National Security Agency employee who held a Top Secret/SCI clearance with lawful access to classified information related to national defense closely held by the government (National Defense Information) – was arrested on March 31, 2022, and charged with willfully transmitting and retaining national defense information, according to a press release posted on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website on the same date.
“This mishandling of classified information was intentional and he was charged accordingly,” said Nelson, who was the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s unauthorized disclosure program officer before transferring to DCSA in 2020. “Unkenholz knew exactly what he was doing but was not charged with espionage since he did not send the information to a foreign adversary or release it into the public domain.
According to the indictment, Unkenholz knowingly transmitted national defense information 13 times between February 2018 and June 2020 to another person who had no right to receive it.
If the case involved the disclosure of classified or CUI information to a foreign adversary or publication in the public domain, Nelson and his team of case managers and investigators from the Unauthorized Disclosure Program Management Office would have been informed.
Current and former government, military, and contractor personnel with current or past access to DoD information or facilities must submit documents intended for public release for review and clearance when such documents may contain information Classified or CUI to include any work related to military matters, national security issues, or matters of significant interest to the DOD generally.
The UDPMO team – one of several DCSA insider threat teams comprising the DOD Insider Threat Management and Analysis Center (DITMAC) – is immediately notified of all incidents involving the release of classified national security information (CNSI) and CUI in the public domain. Notifications to the UDPMO include the authorized disclosure or theft of information relating to any determined defense operation, system or technology such as CNSI or CUI. The team is also alerted to incidents of classified information or CUI being disclosed to unauthorized person(s) resulting in an individual’s administrative action, referral for criminal or counterintelligence investigation, or suspension or dismissal. a security clearance.
When the UDPMO receives a confirmed report of unauthorized disclosure in the public domain, the team submits a crime report to the DOJ. The report includes the findings of a preliminary investigation conducted by the affected component; a damage and impact assessment; and a media leak questionnaire for unauthorized disclosures appearing in the media.
The UDPMO process was exercised in the case of Henry Frese, a former employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency who pleaded guilty to willfully passing top secret national defense information to two journalists in 2018 and 2019 As a result of Frese’s actions, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison in June 2020.
“Frese violated the trust placed in him by the American people when he disclosed sensitive national security information for personal gain,” Assistant National Security Attorney General John C. Demers said in a statement. of the Ministry of Justice. “He alerted our country’s adversaries to sensitive national defense information, endangering national security. The government takes these violations seriously and will use all resources at its disposal to apprehend and prosecute those who endanger the security of this country and its citizens. »
These cases remind all DOD civilians, contractors, and military of their ongoing responsibility to protect and safeguard information.
“This applies while the individual is actively employed by the U.S. government and continues when the individual retires or leaves government service,” Nelson said. “Individuals may use the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act to report information that they reasonably believe provides evidence of a violation of any law, rule or regulation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, ‘an abuse of authority or a substantial danger to public health and safety.’
DOD’s whistleblower protection allows individuals to report information that they reasonably believe provides evidence of a violation of any law, rule, or regulation, gross mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority or substantial danger to public health and safety to designated officials through specific channels. Additional information regarding DoD whistleblower protection is available on the DoD Inspector General’s website at www.dodig.mil. Those making contractor disclosures in response to Federal Acquisition Regulation Clause 52.203-13 – Contractor Business Ethics Compliance Program and Disclosure Requirements – may find relevant guidance at www.dodig.mil/ Programs/Contractor-Disclosure-Program. The differences between Unauthorized Disclosure and Protected Whistleblower are further clarified at https://www.cdse.edu/Training/Toolkits/Unauthorized-Disclosure-Toolkit/.
|Date posted:||07.05.2022 19:23|
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