Several months ago I wrote about the Senate Intelligence Committee accusing the CIA of spying on its torture report work:
The CIA Inspector General’s Office has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations of malfeasance at the spy agency in connection with a yet-to-be released Senate Intelligence Committee report into the CIA’s secret detention and interrogation program, McClatchy has learned.
After CIA gets secret whistleblower email, Congress worries about more spyingThe communications somehow got into the hands of the CIA Inspector General David Buckley, who may have used them illegally:
The CIA obtained a confidential email to Congress about alleged whistleblower retaliation related to the Senate’s classified report on the agency’s harsh interrogation program, triggering fears that the CIA has been intercepting the communications of officials who handle whistleblower cases.
The CIA got hold of the legally protected email and other unspecified communications between whistleblower officials and lawmakers this spring, people familiar with the matter told McClatchy. It’s unclear how the agency obtained the material.
Somehow, according to these people, Buckley obtained the email, which was written by Daniel Meyer, the intelligence community’s top official for whistleblower cases, to the office of Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a leading whistleblower-protection advocate. The Senate Intelligence Committee also learned of the matter, said the knowledgeable people.Grassley has long been an advocate for whistleblower protection and has expressed his concerns that the Insider Threat Program threatens the flow of information to the public and does great harm to moral of federal workers. Trying to learn more on the issue he had recently held a hearing which did not exactly go over well, as I wrote about in the diary: FBI Abruptly Walks Out of Grassley/Leahy Briefing on 'Insider Threat Program'.
After obtaining the email, Buckley approached Meyer’s boss, I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the 17-agency U.S. intelligence community, in what may have constituted a violation of the confidentiality of the whistleblowing process, they said.
Monitoring inspectors’ general communications with lawmakers would clash with efforts by Congress and President Barack Obama to strengthen protections for intelligence community whistleblowers. If government officials outside an inspector general’s office accessed such communications, they could discover whistleblowers’ identities and retaliate against them by targeting them as security risks known as “insider threats.”
Senator Ron Wyden has also been excellent on this issue, as he is with most others. Any time he asks a question of a spy agency, we should all probably take that as a hint that 'yes, the spy agency is doing whatever Wyden is asking about':
The incident involving Meyer’s email occurred shortly before Grassley and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper demanding to know if all of the communications of federal employees with security clearances are being continually monitored, without protections for whistleblowers. McClatchy’s sources said that the letter and the email were likely connected.The main concern of Congress now should be if the ITP is intercepting their emails, and if those emails are being used to punish legitimate whistle-blowers. Ive bolded an extra-ironic part of the below blockquote:
“The letter speaks for itself,” said Keith Chu, a Wyden spokesman, who declined further comment.
There could be several explanations of how Buckley obtained Meyer’s email, said experts familiar with insider threat monitoring. They requested anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.I urge everyone to read the McClatchy piece on this story, as I am sure we will be hearing more on the story in the days to come. Just one more quick quote on the Insider Threat Program, that should scare the hell out of most anyone with any intention of going into public service:
CIA computer security systems could have inadvertently flagged Meyer’s email because it contained certain keywords deemed to be indicators of a potential breach, they said.
Other triggers could include sending email from a personal account over a government network, the identity of the recipient or emailing an attachment, they said.
Intelligence and defense agencies log their workforces’ computer use to detect and deter security risks as part of the administration’s Insider Threat Program, an effort to prevent unauthorized leaks of information.
Clapper earlier this year discussed the need to continually evaluate the trustworthiness of federal employees with security clearances as part of the Insider Threat Program by monitoring their official and “off the job” communications.
The program covers virtually every federal department and agency, including the Peace Corps, the Department of Education and others not directly involved in national security.