Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin commissioned the review following the April arrest of National Guardsman Jack Teixeira for posting hundreds of pages of classified documents on the Discord social media platform.
The massive leak revealed some of the nation’s top military secrets, from America’s relationship with its allies to the war in Ukraine, and prompted questions about whether agencies across the U.S. government are properly safeguarding classified information. Teixeira, who has a history of violent threats and had previously been caught taking classified information, has pleaded not guilty.
Since Teixeira had the security clearance necessary to view the documents, it’s not clear whether the Pentagon’s tightened procedures would have prevented the leak.
Based on the findings from the security review, Austin directed top DOD officials to “validate” that their personnel have a continuing need to access sensitive information, and ensure those personnel have a valid non-disclosure agreement on file by Sept. 30, according to a June 30 memo.
Every military facility containing classified information — called a “SCIF” for Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility — must also be reported to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for entry into the agency’s SCIF repository by Sept. 30.
Austin also directed the intelligence and security office to develop and maintain a centralized tracking system for SCIFs and other special access facilities by Dec. 31, and to establish a “Joint Management Office” for insider threat and cyber capabilities.
The Pentagon will also review and update security processes and procedures to clarify their meaning and reduce any “ambiguity,” according to a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to provide public comment on the issue.
Still, Austin emphasized in the memo that “The department relies on a culture of trust and accountability for those who are granted access to CNSI,” using the acronym for classified national security information.
“This review found that the overwhelming majority of DOD personnel with access to CNSI are trustworthy, and that all DOD components demonstrate a broad commitment to security,” Austin wrote.
The senior defense official added that the review found no “single point of failure” that led to the leak, and that the vast majority of DOD personnel with access to classified information complied with security policies.
The Pentagon also said it is working to ensure the new measures don’t impede the sharing of information between U.S. agencies.
“The department is mindful of the need to balance information security with [the] requirement to get the right information to the right people at the right time to enhance our security,” according to a DOD statement.
As DOD implements the recommendations, “careful consideration will be given to guard against any ‘overcorrection’ which may impede progress on information sharing,” according to the statement.