“Henceforward, the only news about intelligence is to be authorized news.”

Source: Steve Watson

The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who notoriously lied to Congress over the scope of the NSA’s mass surveillance program, has issued a directive that effectively bans anyone working for any US intelligence agency from talking to the media or journalists.

The directive, which will be seen as many as an all out assault on the First Amendment rights of intelligence employees, says that personnel “must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on any “intelligence-related information”.

The directive also states that if employees for any reason run into journalists they will be bound to inform their superiors in the intelligence community. Employees “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” the directive states.

Clapper is seemingly obsessed with shutting down all external avenues for whistle blowers to release sensitive information.

Stephen Aftergood of watchdog group Federation of American Scientists, notes that the new directive “reflects — and escalates — tensions between the government and the press over leaks of classified information.”

“Significantly, however, the new prohibition does not distinguish between classified and unclassified intelligence information.” Aftergood notes, “The ‘covered matters’ that require prior authorization before an employee may discuss them with a reporter extend to any topic that is ‘related’ to intelligence, irrespective of its classification status.”

The directive states that “at a minimum” violations of the new policy “will be handled in the same manner as a security violation.”

Any employees found to have conversed on such “matters” with journalists could be subject to criminal prosecution. “IC employees who are found to be in violation of this IC policy may be subject to administrative actions that may include revocation of security clearance or termination of employment,” the directive states.

When it comes to what quantifies “the media” as far as Clapper’s directive is concerned, it is very broadly “any person… engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security….”.

“Essentially, the directive seeks to ensure that the only contacts that occur between intelligence community employees and the press are those that have been approved in advance. Henceforward, the only news about intelligence is to be authorized news.” Aftergood writes.

Clapper, currently giving speeches to University students, begging them to stop thinking of Edward Snowden as a hero, has previously described the whistle blower as a criminal, and has referred to the journalists who have copies of his NSA documents as his “accomplices”.

Clapper is yet to face any repercussions, despite the fact that he has himself admitted lying to Congress about the NSA’s spying techniques.