Office of the Director of National Intelligence Now Requires Employees To Pretend Leaks Never Happened

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has an interesting new policy regarding all that leaked information that's been going around lately: pretend it doesn't exist.

Yes, according to Instruction 80.4 (Pre-Publication Review of Information To Be Publicly Released), all ODNI employees (both current and former) may not use any information from "known leaks, or unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information" in anything they release to the public, for fear that it will "confirm the validity" of that information.

According to New York Times' Charlie Savage, the now-banned practice of acknowledging that things like news reports about leaked information exist is a "technique that government officials have long used to join in public discussions of well-known but technically still-secret information." It is also a technique used by people who live in realm of reality, where things like "the media" exist and cannot simply be wished or directed away.

A spokesman for James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told NYT that "officials work with ODNI personnel to allow for as much public release as possible," which might come as a surprise to anyone who knows anything about Clapper. 

The new policy was first spotted by the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy. Steven Aftergood notes:

The newly updated Instruction will no doubt inhibit informal contacts between ODNI employees and members of the general public, as it is intended to do. Whether that is a wise policy, and whether such indiscriminate barriers to the public serve the real interests of ODNI and the U.S. intelligence community, are separate questions.

Last month, Aftergood also found a new directive from ODNI that prohibited employees from having unauthorized contact with the media -- even if it is to discuss unclassified information.

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