Washington: Stung by WikiLeaks’ publication of classified US diplomatic cables, President Barack Obama has roped in a veteran counter-terrorism official to oversee efforts to plug the gaping security gaps.
Russell Travers, deputy director of the National Counter-Terrorism Center since 2003 and spent the rest of his 30-plus-year career working for such intelligence agencies as the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
In the new position as senior adviser for information access and security policy, Travers’ tasks will include advising the president’s national security staff of recommendations, actions and other measures related to WikiLeaks’ ability to obtain government documents.
He is also to study how such information is handled at high levels and develop options for any technological or policy changes necessary to prevent further leaks.
Additionally, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board has been directed to parse the administration’s processes for dealing with classified information, with an eye toward its effectiveness at protecting such information while balancing the need to share information with the need to secure it.
The secretaries of state and defense, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, respectively, have separately commissioned reviews of security procedures in their departments, the White House statement says. And the Office of the director of national intelligence is also working across the government to assist in security reviews.
However, the appointment of Travers along with other actions by the Obama administration have not satisfied Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who said he doesn’t “sense an urgency” to close the security gaps.
Hoekstra slammed the Obama administration, saying the government is not moving fast enough.
“I still don’t sense an urgency to fix the problem,” he was quoted as saying by CNN.
Hoekstra said the White House actions are “seven to eight months late,” given that the administration had learned about the leaks in May, and he said they are not enough.
“They’re saying that people could die because of these leaks; now, seven months later, they’re doing something about it? That doesn’t give me a great degree of confidence,” he said.
“This is a massive government-wide problem,” he said.
The whistle-blower website WikiLeaks has published hundreds of classified US diplomatic messages, known as “cables,” and the organisation says it plans to publish up to a quarter-million more.