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An intelligence oopsie

April 18, 2013, at 10:19 PM

(S/NF) Last week, I assessed with strong confidence that the disclosure of two sentences from a Defense Intelligence Agency analysis on North Korea was the result of two errors, one committed by the supervisor of the analytical team, and another committed by the member of Congress who disclosed the sentence, Doug Lamborn.

(U) You'll recall that in a public hearing, Rep. Lamborn asked the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, whether he agreed with a conclusion that had just been brought to his attention.

(S) Lamborn said that a DIA report on North Korea included the following two lines, which were marked as unclassified. 

DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low.

(U) The CJCS declined to discuss the issue, unsure of why Lamborn appeared to be disclosing something that ought to have been classified but apparently was not.

(U) Lamborn and his staff insisted that they had the right to read into the record unclassified portions of classified documents, even though the executive branch has a specific and categorical prohibition against doing so. 

(S/NF) Today, the Director of National Intelligence and the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said that the line Lamborn read into the public record was supposed to have been marked classified. It was "mislabeled as unclassified," DNI James Clapper said.

(U) Lamborn's spokesperson insisted that he had "triple-checked" with the DIA that the language was properly unclassified.

(S) I had surmised that the DIA simply overlooked the (U) next to the phrase in question, which referred specifically to a current intelligence assessment of a critical military capability of an adversary, something that by statute and common sense is properly kept classified at least for the duration of a crisis.

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