By Suzanne Kelly
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is rolling out new measures Monday aimed at ending what recently has been a spate of leaks regarding classified programs and operations.
Among Clapper's recommendations, to be instituted across the 16 intelligence agencies, are an enhanced counterintelligence polygraph test for employees who have access to classified information, and the establishment of a task force of intelligence community inspectors general that will have the ability to conduct independent investigations across agencies in coordination with the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive.
Clapper has also called for a review of current policies that relate to interaction with members of the media, and how that interaction must be reported.
The new question that will be added to the current counterintelligence polygraph test - which intelligence community employees who handle classified information are required to take - will specifically ask whether the employee has disclosed classified information to a member of the media.
Clapper is using his authority to direct that the question be added by all intelligence community agencies that use the polygraph test, including the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Department of Energy, the FBI, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Security Agency.
Clapper also is establishing a lead task force of investigators housed within his office to make the investigation of leaks more seamless. That move could also overcome an internal problem in the investigation of such leaks, which is that the Department of Justice, which is responsible for such investigations, often recuses itself because of possible conflicts of interest.
Recent leaks of classified information include revealing in May that a mole had been working to help thwart a Yemen bomb plot targeting the United States, as well as disclosing the classified drone program and that the United States and Israel were behind a cyberwarfare program known as Stuxnet, which targeted an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility, causing centrifuges to spin out of control.
The FBI is currently investigating the Yemen and Stuxnet leaks.
According to the director of communication for the Intelligence community, Shawn Turner, while the new directives will apply only to the intelligence community, Clapper believes that the sources of leaks in Washington spans multiple government agencies, departments and even branches of government.
The new measures will not apply to other agencies that handle classified information, such as the Department of State, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, or Department of Defense, nor will they apply to members of the National Security Council, who advise the president on sensitive and classified programs.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona has accused the White House of leaking classified information in an effort to make the president appear tough on national security just months before the presidential election.
White House officials have emphatically denied the claims, and some high-profile Democratic lawmakers have come to their defense.
Clapper has met with the top-ranking members of both the House and Senate intelligence committees in recent weeks and is expected back on Capitol Hill this week to detail the new measures.
The Chair of the House intelligence committee welcomed the new measures, saying that what he called 'the parade of recent leaks' is unacceptable.
"DNI Clapper's announcement today is a good first step into not only deterring leaks, but also detecting when they happen so those responsible can be prosecuted," said Mike Rogers.
Republican lawmakers led by Senator John McCain will hold a press conference on the leaks issue on Tuesday morning.