December 2nd, 2010
11:45 AM ET

White House scrambles to show it's on point at fixing security leaks

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - The White House tapped a career counterterrorism official Wednesday to oversee government-wide efforts to fix security gaps in light of the WikiLeaks publication of classified documents.

The appointment of Russell Travers as senior adviser for information access and security policy, along with other actions detailed in a "fact sheet" released by the White House press office, weren't enough to satisfy the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, who said he doesn't "sense an urgency" to close the security gaps.

Travers has been 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, 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 Office of Management and Budget has directed all agencies and departments that handle classified information to conduct extensive reviews of their procedures and policies.

The secretaries of state and defense, Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates, respectively, have 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.

But Rep. Pete Hoekstra slammed the administration Wednesday, saying the government is not moving fast enough.

"I still don't sense an urgency to fix the problem," said Hoekstra, R-Michigan.

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soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Kim

    Why isn't Wiki Leaks shut down ? 1971 Supreme Court + Pentagon Papers Case = First Amendment & Espionage Act problems. Nixon's administration attemped to stop the NY Times from printing leaked high level military reports on the Vietnam War.Nixon failed ! Tom Donilon,Russell Travers,Schoenfeld and Kevin Bankston. All of which sound like computor wizards.Amazon.com kicked Wicki Leaks out and good job ! It's not worth the trouble. Rep Candice Miller says,"Wiki Leaks is a terrorist organization whose continued operation threatenes our security." Okay Mr Cooper is Wiki Leaks a terrorist operation with Julian Assange in charge ? Mr. Assange wants Hillary Clinton to resign for urging US envoys to spy on fellow diplomats.What does Hillary Clinton have to say about that and go ask her.

    December 3, 2010 at 10:50 am |
  2. Kim

    Bill Clinton said in a speech in Greensboro,NC recently that he would not be surprised if someone ended up killed over these leaks.The first the general public heard about all this was in July and the media informed then that there were more documents to be released but they were going through them to make sure they didn't pose a national security threat or would cause harm to our US troops.The media gave the impression that Julian the Wiki dickie bonehead wasn't going to release documents that they thought would pose a national threat or be to damaging and those documents would be removed.Wasn't the Pentagon reviewing some of these documents ? Is the general public getting the run around on all his and ask Hillary Clinton to come out and tell us the 123 of it and what is being done so it doesn't happen again.Hand write your top secret documents and don't put it on the computor ? How is Russell Travers going to prevent another leak and are there more documents that come out in another few months ? Thousands of employees and computors that aren't top secret safe clearance codes for National Security ? Just tell Hillary Clinton to use her penmanship and cursive she was taught and put that foreign top secret business in a safe locked that only she has the key.Lick it,stick it, top secret, walk it, policy and personally delivered from the Pentagon to the State Department and vise versa. I don't think Mr. Travers has a fail safe technology security plan and one hasn't been invented yet with technology advancements.Humans run computors and Manning is in prison.Where is the "fact sheet" the White House released and Hillary Clinton better have a copy of it hand delivered and written before it was ever typed on a computor.

    December 3, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    On this kind of matter the old proverb of " Act in haste and repent at leisure" is perhaps most appropriate.
    Lets not forget as this Republican committee member said, this problem arises from systems in place since 1960 per wiki leaks. fixing this is urgent yes, but Hoekstra's comment is attempting to score political points and not at saying constructive things about what to do. The fact sheet and several appointments show action is being taken constructively and no doubt State and Defence have told all parts to tone down or stop personal assessments until security changes are made and to just upgrade data where sensitivity is involved reducing access until systems are fixed. My guess that why Clinton is hurrying round the world with what to do at the practical level to avoid future embarrassments with out the need for huge computer syatem overhauls which to do well need time.

    December 3, 2010 at 12:14 am |