GOP Rep.: ‘Ob­struc­tion­ists’ hin­der Wik­iLeaks probe

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SHAUN WATER­MAN

The State Depar tment and other U.S. agen­cies are not fully co­op­er­at­ing with law­mak­ers’ ef­forts to probe the Wik­iLeaks se­cu­rity breach, ac­cord­ing to the Repub­li­can likely to be the next chair­man of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence.

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michi­gan Repub­li­can and a se­nior mem­ber of the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee, said govern­ment of­fi­cials seem “more concerned about their depart­ment’s rep­u­ta­tion than the con­se­quences [of the leak], and that is a big prob­lem.”

“They’ve been ob­struc­tion­ist up to this point,” Mr. Rogers told The Washington Times. “They need an at­ti­tude ad­just­ment.”

He joins a grow­ing cho­rus of Democrats and Repub­li­cans who are find­ing fault with the govern­ment’s post-Sept. 11 in­for ma­tion-shar ing sys­tem, which aims to push in­tel­li­gence re­port­ing to­ward the front lines of the war on ter­ror­ism.

“Clearly, the rush to share ev­ery­thing with ev­ery­one has gone too far,” Mr. Rogers said. “Clearly, there’ll be changes.”

That sen­ti­ment was echoed by Rep. C.A. Dutch Rup­pers­berger, Mary­land Demo­crat, who chaired part of the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee brief­ing on the Wik­iLeaks breach last week that Mr. Rogers at­tended.

Mr. Rup­pers­berger noted that a half-mil­lion peo­ple have ac­cess to the net­work that was re­port­edly com­pro­mised — a clas­si­fied Pen­tagon com­puter sys­tem called SIPRNet.

“How did we get to the point where a pri­vate with a ques­tion­able back­ground has that kind of ac­cess?” he said. “We mem­bers of Congress [. . . ] don’t have that kind of ac­cess.”

He was re­fer­ring to a lowlevel mil­i­tary an­a­lyst, Army Pfc. Bradley E. Man­ning, who has been charged in con­nec­tion with the breach and is ac­cused of down­load­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of se­cret doc­u­ments from SIPRNet.

Pfc. Man­ning has been in soli­tary con­fine­ment at the Ma­rine Corps base at Quan­tico, Va., since July. His at­tor­ney has said that be­fore the breach, Pfc. Man­ning’s su­pe­ri­ors were so concerned about his mental health that they dis­abled his weapon. He also was ad­mon­ished while a trainee for in­ap­pro­pri­ately ref­er­enc­ing clas­si­fied ma­te­rial in per­sonal videos he posted on the Web.

Nei­ther in­ci­dent ap­pears to have re­stricted his top-se­cret clear­ance or his ac­cess to SIPRNet.

For­mer users of SIPRNet say the net­work is set up very much like the In­ter­net, with users em­ploy­ing a Web browser to visit sites main­tained by dif­fer­ent U.S. agen­cies on which they dis­play ma­te­rial clas­si­fied up to the low­est level — se­cret.

“It is ba­si­cally a par­al­lel In- ter­net, clas­si­fied at the se­cret level,” said Adam Rice, a se­cu­rity spe­cial­ist who used the net­work when he was in the Army Spe­cial Forces.

For the 500,000-plus cleared users of SIPRNet, there are few bar­ri­ers to ac­cess once they are logged on, said Mr. Rice, now the head of se­cu­rity for a global In­ter­net firm. “Once you’re in [. . . ] you ba­si­cally have ac­cess to any­thing in there.”

When Mr. Rice was a user, “I was amazed at the in­for­ma­tion that was out there,” he said, de­clin­ing to give any specifics. He was es­pe­cially sur­prised, given the size of the user base with ac­cess. “It is too big, too un­con­trolled,” he said.

Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and chair­woman of the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, agreed that “part of the prob­lem” is the broad dis­tri­bu­tion of in­tel­li­gence that has been pro­moted since Sept. 11, with in­tel­li­gence agen­cies urged to re­place their tra­di­tional re­liance on “need to know” with a new fo­cus on “need to share.”

“Both con­cepts — ‘need to know’ and ‘need to share’ — must be care­fully re­viewed and changed,” she said in a state­ment, adding that at present,

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michi­gan Repub­li­can and a se­nior mem­ber of the House Per­ma­nent Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, said govern­ment of­fi­cials seem “more concerned about their depart­ment’s rep­u­ta­tion than the con­se­quences [of the leak], and that is a big prob­lem. They’ve been ob­struc­tion­ist up to this point,” Mr. Rogers told The Washington Times. “They need an at­ti­tude ad­just­ment.”

“hun­dreds of thou­sands of in­di­vid­u­als re­ceive in­tel­li­gence” that they do not need.

Mr. Rice noted the fact that Pfc. Man­ning was caught only af­ter he con­fessed in an on­line chat to a for­mer hacker who turned him in to the au­thor­i­ties. “If he wasn’t such a brag­gart, he’d have got­ten clean away,” he said.

This was es­pe­cially alarm­ing be­cause it in­di­cated that there was no mon­i­tor­ing of down­load­ing by SIPRNet users.

“Who was watch­ing the sta­ble door be­fore the horse was stolen?” Mr. Rice said. “How could that much data leave SIPRNet with­out any­one know­ing about it?”

Sim­ple pre­cau­tions could eas­ily have pre­vented the mas­sive se­cu­rity breach Pfc. Man­ning is charged with, Mr. Rice said. “At bot­tom this prob­lem is just sloppy man­age­ment.”

Mr. Rogers agreed: “The way they han­dled this was neg­li­gent. [. . . ] It is mind-bog­gling be­cause we know the technology ex­ists to pre­vent this.”

He added that he is “concerned” about what he de­scribed as “al­most a cava­lier at­ti­tude” among of­fi­cials to­wards the de­tails of in­for­ma­tion-shar­ing pol­icy.

But other law­mak­ers were push­ing back against what they saw as an over­re­ac­tion — pre­sag­ing pos­si­ble con­flict about the is­sue across party lines and com­pli­cated by the ju­ris­dic­tional is­sues in­volved be­tween the in­tel­li­gence, armed ser­vices and govern­ment over­sight com­mit­tees.

“There was no ‘rush’ to in­crease in­for ma­tion-shar ing af­ter Sept. 11,” Sen. Christo­pher S. Bond, Mis­souri Repub­li­can, said in an e-mailed state­ment.

“It has been a long, painstak­ing process to in­crease in­for­ma­tion to those who need to have it,” Mr. Bond said. “I think the so­lu­tion is not to share less, but to im­prove au­dit­ing and con­trol of the in­for­ma­tion so that this kind of mass down­load can­not hap­pen again.”

But even those crit­i­cal of SIPRNet ac­cess ar­range­ments cau­tioned against con­gres­sional over­re­ac­tion. “We’ve got to get the in­for­ma­tion into the right hands,” Mr. Rup­pers­berger said. “We can’t go back to the stovepipes we had be­fore Sept. 11.”

Mr. Rup­pers­berger said that es­tab­lish­ing ac­count­abil­ity for the breach is im­por­tant.

“Was there a lack of lead­er­ship?” he said. “I am sure we will find peo­ple who didn’t do their jobs.”

But he ob­served that many mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures had been taken, in­clud­ing bar­ring down­loads to re­mov­able me­dia, like the CDs Pfc. Man­ning boasted of us­ing to steal the data, and im­proved man­age­ment over­sight.

Mr. Rogers, how­ever, was more skep­ti­cal. “I am not con­vinced that the prob­lems are fixed,” he said. “If they are, they haven’t demon­strated that.”


Rep. Mike Rogers, Michi­gan Repub­li­can

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