Hundreds of Classified Leaks Under Review by IC Inspector General

06.17.13 | 3 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Hundreds of cases of unauthorized disclosures of classified information were under review by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Intelligence Community as of last year, according to a 2012 report that was recently declassified.

“The Investigations Division [of the IC Office of the Inspector General] is reviewing 375 unauthorized disclosure case files,” said the report from Inspector General I. Charles McCullough, covering the period from November 2011 through June 2012 (at p. 16).

Most of these reviews pertained to disclosures which could not be criminally prosecuted for one reason or another, and which were therefore considered closed cases. Until recently, they were usually not investigated further.  But starting a year or so ago, the IC Inspector General began reviewing them in order to identify the leakers and to impose administrative sanctions where appropriate.

“The Investigations Division reviewed hundreds of closed cases from across the IC,” said the 2012 report, which was released under the Freedom of Information Act in redacted form (p. 10).

Leakers who cannot be prosecuted will not necessarily be off the hook, the IG said.

“Going forward, the division will engage in gap mitigation for those cases where an agency does not have the authority to investigate ([due to the overlap of] multiple agencies or programs) or where DOJ declined criminal prosecution.”

“The division will conduct administrative investigations with IG investigators from affected IC elements to maximize efficiencies, expedite investigations, and enhance partnerships,” the IC IG report said.

Intelligence agencies do not often disclose statistical information about leaks, but the reported figure of 375 leak cases exceeds previously reported levels by a considerable margin.

In 2010 the FBI said that intelligence agencies had submitted 183 referrals of incidents of unauthorized disclosure of classified information to the Department of Justice during a five year period from 2005 to 2009.  Those referrals resulted in 26 leak investigations, and the subsequent identification of 14 suspects. (“FBI Found 14 Intel Leak Suspects in Past 5 Years,” Secrecy News, June 21, 2010).

The newly disclosed Inspector General report also included several other points of interest regarding intelligence community policy.

The IG said that plans to generate auditable financial statements prepared by five intelligence agencies — CIA, DIA, NSA, NGA and ODNI — were not adequate.  “We found no reasonable assurance that based on the plans we reviewed, any of the five entities would be able to achieve an unqualified opinion on their FY 2015 or FY 2016 financial statements,” the IG report said.

The IG said that its Hotline for submitting complaints “provides a confidential and reliable source for IC employees and contractors and the public to report fraud, waste, and abuse. Since the stand up of the IC IG in November 2011, the Hotline has received 105 contacts from the IC and the general public,” the June 2012 report said.

Presidential Policy Directive 19 on Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information, issued by President Obama in October 2012, is intended to enhance protections for intelligence community whistleblowers and to prohibit retaliation against them.  But it does not mention intelligence community contractors, observed Angela Canterbury of the Project on Government Oversight, and on its face, the Directive does not appear to extend protections to them.

The IC IG says it is well-positioned “to address the most critical problems facing the IC today. Information sharing, implementation of intelligence collection authorities under the USA PATRIOT Act and FISA Amendments Act, IC contractor fraud schemes, and unauthorized disclosures are just a few of the IC-wide issues that the IC IG will address,” the report said.