After voicing worries about the government’s reaction to the WikiLeaks breaches, a coalition of nine advocacy groups recently got a reply from White House budget director Jack Lew. At least one, though, found the answer a bit puzzling.
The coalition, which includes the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Library Association and the Project on Government Oversight, had written Lew in January after his office posted a long checklist of instructions on how agencies should assess procedures for protecting classified information. By a literal reading, those instructions appeared to require any agency with classification authority to profile employees for “trustworthiness,” along with tracking their pre-employment and post-employment web surfing habits to see if they checked out sites like WikiLeaks.
Such monitoring could violate feds’ constitutional rights, the coalition wrote in its letter to Lew. Profiling could be used to target employees who expose waste, fraud and abuse, the groups added. Lew, however, replied last month that the checklist did not impose any new requirements, with agencies only supposed to assess how they were meeting existing requirements.
But in a blog post, POGO noted that agencies were originally told that the assessments ‘”were intended to build”’ upon existing self-inspection programs, thereby suggesting a need to go beyond the status quo.
“We imagine that many agencies might also have understood the assessment checklist to be a roadmap of sorts for improving their policies and procedures for handling classified information,” the post continued, “not just an inventory of existing policies.”