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The President has issued a directive to strengthen our efforts to safeguard national security information from unlawful disclosure. This directive, a copy of which is attached, is based upon the recommendations of an interdepartmental group chaired by the Department of Justice. I fully support the President's policy
and expect that it will be faithfully implemented throughout the Department.
This directive does not alter the existing obligation of Department personnel to comply with statutes and regulations pertaining to national security information. We must be careful to avoid the unnecessary or improper use of classification. Whenever possible, information should be kept unclassified or declassified so as to permit public access. However, information that is properly classified in the interest of national security must be protected from unauthorized disclosure.
Many of the specific requirements of the directive involve no change from current Department of Justice policy.
The use of nondisclosure agreements and the requirement of prepublication review in appropriate cases are consistent with current policies. More detailed guidance on these policies will be provided in the near future. The directive requires no change in existing Department policies on use of the polygraph, with regard to attorneys or FBI employees. Policies with regard to employees in the competitive service will be changed to conform with expected revisions in OPM regulations on this subject.
Internal investigations of unauthorized disclosures will continue to be coordinated by the Office of Professional Responsibility, with assistance from the FBI as needed.
To the extent implementation of the President's directive requires changes in Department of Justice policies and procedures, you will be kept fully informed.
Embargoed for Conclusion of Background Briefing
Presidential Directive on
Safeguarding National Security Information
Unlawful disclosures of classified information damage national security by providing valuable information to our adversaries, by hampering the ability of our intelligence agencies to function effectively, and by impairing the conduct of American foreign policy.
The President has issued a directive requiring that additional steps be taken to protect against unlawful disclosures of classified information.
This directive is based on the recommendations of an interdepartmental group convened by the Attorney General.
Scope of Directive
The directive deals only with disclosures of classified
By Executive Order, the only information that can be classified is information which "reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security" if released without proper authorization. (E.O. 12356 $1.1(a)(3).)
The Executive Order also prohibits the use of classification to conceal violations of law, inefficiency or administrative error, or to prevent an embarrassment to a government agency or employee. (E.O. 12356 S 1.6(a).)
Summary of Provisions
The directive imposes additional restrictions upon government employees who are entrusted with access to classified information, and upon government agencies that originate or handle classified information.
More employees will be required to sign
Agencies will be required to adopt
Agencies will be required to adopt new
and analyzed more efficiently.
The directive establishes a new approach to investigating unlawful disclosures to replace the past practice of treating such matters as purely criminal investigations.
Although unauthorized disclosures of
classified information potentially violate
a number of criminal statutes, there has
This directive clarifies FBI's authority to
classified information, even though it is
All agencies with employees having access to
use of polygraph examinations under
agencies. The directive provides for a
government-wide policy regarding use of this
The use of the polygraph in any particular
There will be no change in the current
The directive provides that employees found
cooperation with investigations will be
information. Existing procedural safeguards
This directive is not expected to eliminate all unlawful
The directive is designed to improve the effectiveness of our present program and, over time, to reduce the frequency and seriousness of unlawful disclosures of classified information.
The directive also emphasizes that government employees who are entrusted with classified information have a fiduciary duty to safeguard that information from unauthorized disclosure.
Safeguarding National Security Information
As stated in Executive Order 12356, only that information whose disclosure would harm the national security interests of the United States may be classified. Every effort should be made to declassify information that no longer requires protection in the interest of national security.
At the same time, however, safeguarding against unlawful disclosures of properly classified information is a matter of grave concern and high priority for this Administration. In addition to the requirements set forth in Executive Order 12356, and based on the recommendations contained in the interdepartmental report forwarded by the Attorney General, I direct the following:
1. Each agency of the Executive Branch that originates or handles classified information shall adopt internal procedures to safeguard against unlawful disclosures of classified information. Such procedures shall at a minimum provide as follows:
a. All persons with authorized access to classified information shall be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a condition of access. This requirement may be implemented prospectively by agencies for which the administrative burden of compliance would otherwise be excessive.
b. All persons with authorized access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) shall be required to sign a nondisclosure agreement as a condition of access to SCI and other classified information. All such agreements must include a provision for prepublication review to assure deletion of SCI and other classified information.
C. All agreements required in paragraphs 1.a. and 1.b. must be in a form determined by the Department of Justice to be enforceable in a civil action brought by the United States. The Director, Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), shall develop standardized forms that satisfy these requirements.
d. Appropriate policies shall be adopted to govern contacts between media representatives and agency personnel, so as to reduce the opportunity for negligent or deliberate disclosures of classified information. All persons with authorized access to classified information shall be clearly apprised of the agency's policies in this regard.