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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pentagon plans to step up security of classified information after leak World News


Pentagon Announced plans Wednesday to beef up protections for classified information following explosive leaks hundreds of intelligence documents It was accessed through a security breach at an Air National Guard base in Massachusetts.

A senior defense official briefing reporters on the new directive said the Defense Department was working to increase accountability. (AP/Representative Photo)

Air Force Private First Class Jack Teixeira, 21, charged Leaking highly classified military documents in a chat room on Discord, a social media platform that started out as a hangout for gamers.

In a memo released Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered all DoD secure rooms that store and access classified information to meet intelligence community standards for oversight and tracking. The changes call for increased levels of physical security, increased controls to ensure documents are not inappropriately deleted, and the assignment of top-secret control officers to monitor users.

A senior defense official briefing reporters on the new directive said the Defense Department is working to increase accountability, using technology that can better track what workers are doing and what information they are accessing. But at the same time, the official said, defense leaders don’t want to impede the ability of the entire government to share critical information if necessary.

Asked whether the department was trying to limit the number of people who have access to classified information, the defense official said it was to ensure the department properly determines what information each individual has access to and to ensure that employees have a need to understand the classified information they are reading Material.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity in accordance with Pentagon ground rules for briefings.

Austin also said in the memo that sensitive quarantined information facilities (SCIFs) must be monitored to prevent the use of electronic devices in the rooms. The work will include “appropriate electronic device detection systems and mitigations” within the secure area, the memo said.

According to the authorities, Teixeira, who joined the Air National Guard in 2019, began sharing military secrets, first by printing classified documents and later by removing them from the base and taking them home for photos.

Teixeira served as a “network transmission systems specialist,” essentially an IT specialist in charge of the military’s communications network, which gave him broad access to the military’s classified computing networks.

The senior defense official said the case highlights the potential gaps the Defense Department faces in protecting classified information at military installations around the world, which have varying security procedures and layers of protection.

“There wasn’t any single point of failure,” the official added.

Court documents in Teixeira’s case show that Air National Guard chiefs warned him at least three times about improperly obtaining classified information, but took no further action to limit his clearance or access.

One of the problems the Defense Department found in its review, the official said, was ambiguity in some military classified information policies at facilities farther from headquarters, such as when security violations need to be reported higher up the chain of command, the official said.

Teixeira pleaded not guilty to federal felony charges last month.

The shocking leak exposed the world’s thinly veiled and secretive assessments of the Russia-Ukraine war, other countries’ capabilities and geopolitical interests, and other national security concerns. This has led to an extensive security review of the vast number of users who have access to top-secret information, who is tracking them and whether they need to know about it.

Austin also directed the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency to develop ways to more quickly flag and communicate concerns about personnel to local commanders, such as improving ways to “continuously review information” — any updates on criminal records, credit reports or other indicators Report. Tracking as part of background checks – can be shared faster to flag potential security risks.

An estimated 4 million people hold U.S. security clearances, according to a 2017 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Of these, approximately 1.3 million were granted access to top-secret information.

The Department of Defense has previously been criticized for delays in vetting new hires’ security clearances and over-secretization of information. Officials were trying to balance those concerns with finding ways to better protect the documents without further slowing down access to needed information, the official said.

The latest figures were not immediately available. But some lawmakers have long wanted to update the U.S. system for classifying information and add safeguards to how documents are stored and tracked.


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