The Guardian appears to have obtained yet another “TOPSECRET/NOFORN” document. This one is a Presidential Policy Directive on U.S. cyber operations and directs the President’s national security team to “identify a list of potential targets” for US cyber attacks.
But more significant than the document itself is the fact that was leaked – the third such TOPSECRET document to the same reporter, Glenn Greenwald, who received the leaks of the documents dealing with the FISA phone records and Operation PRISM.
Read the Guardian report here.
There is concern in the intelligence community that these leaks may be the tip of the iceberg — that the administration is facing another WikiLeaks situation with an individual with access to lots of classified information and prepared to leak more.
One senior US intelligence official also notes that these leaks come just as the trial of Bradley Manning, the WikiLeaks leaker, has begun.
The source says: “I am guessing here but the Manning trial can’t be a pure coincidence.”
There is one important distinction between the “Secret” documents Bradley Manning is accused of leaking and the “TOPSECRET” documents that have been leaked to the Guardian.
On this latest leak regarding potential targets in a cyber war, National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden has already released a statement which seems to confirm the authenticity of the document by defending its contents:
“As we have already publicly acknowledged, last year the President signed a classified Presidential directive relating to cyber operations, updating a similar directive dating back to 2004. This step is part of the Administration’s focus on cybersecurity as a top priority. The cyber threat has evolved, and we have new experiences to take into account.
“This directive establishes principles and processes for the use of cyber operations so that cyber tools are integrated with the full array of national security tools we have at our disposal. It provides a whole-of-government approach consistent with the values that we promote domestically and internationally as we have previously articulated in the International Strategy for Cyberspace.
“This directive will establish principles and processes that can enable more effective planning, development, and use of our capabilities. It enables us to be flexible, while also exercising restraint in dealing with the threats we face. It continues to be our policy that we shall undertake the least action necessary to mitigate threats and that we will prioritize network defense and law enforcement as the preferred courses of action. The procedures outlined in this directive are consistent with the U.S. Constitution, including the President’s role as commander in chief, and other applicable law and policies.”