America’s most senior intelligence officer says its classification system is broken

Avril HainesTHE MOST SENIOR INTELLIGENCE officer in the United States has said in a letter that the nation’s system of classification is flawed and undermines its national security. This view was expressed by Avril Haines, who heads the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the body that directs and coordinates America’s 18 intelligence agencies. Haines, 52, was appointed to the position last year by President Joe Biden, and is seen as a potential reformist of the US intelligence community.

Haines stated her view on classification in a letter sent to two Senators, Jerry Moran (R., Kan.) and Ron Wyden (D., Ore.). The letter was in response to a formal query submitted by the two members of Congress. The query concerns the mounting backlog of classified information that is currently awaiting declassification on historical or ‘right-to-know’ legal processes. The latter require government agencies to release information to the public domain.

Some of the contents of Haines’ letter, marked “for official use only”, were reported on Thursday by The Wall Street Journal. According to the paper, Haines opined that “deficiencies in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as critical democratic objectives, by impeding our ability to share information in a timely manner”. This affects the work of policy makers, the public’s perception of the American system of government, and the nation’s ability to share critical information with its allies, said Haines.

What is more, ongoing efforts to limit the “exponential growth” of classified information in government vaults “are simply not sufficient”. This is “a fundamentally important issue that we must address”, said Haines. In an essay she authored shortly before becoming Director of National Intelligence, Haines had criticized the government’s tendency to overclassify information, claiming that “it actually encourages leaking”. In response to Haines’ letter, Senators Moran and Wyden issued a statement saying the DNI “clearly recognizes that the current broken classification system harms US national security while eroding the public’s trust in government”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 28 January 2022 | Permalink

Senior American, Japanese and S. Korean spy officials to meet behind closed doors

Avril HainesTHE INTELLIGENCE CHIEFS OF the United States, Japan and South Korea are to meet behind closed doors this week. The meeting will take place nearly two years after a major diplomatic spat between Japan and South Korea threatened to significantly harm intelligence cooperation between them. In November of 2019, the South Korean government threatened to terminate the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). The agreement was initiated in 2016 under American tutelage, with the aim of facilitating the sharing of intelligence between South Korea and Japan about North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.

As intelNews explained at the time, the agreement fell victim to an escalating tit-for-tat row between the two Asian countries, which was rooted in the use of forced Korean labor by Japanese troops during World War II. The South Korean government demanded financial compensation for the use of slave labor, including sex slaves, by Japanese occupation troops during the annexation of Korea by Japan, which lasted from 1910 until 1945.

Tokyo responded to a mass boycott of Japanese goods in South Korea by limiting the export of electronics for use in South Korea’s ship-building industry. It also removed South Korea from the list of countries that can fast-track their exports to Japan. South Korea responded by threatening to not renew GSOMIA prior to it lapsing. With hours to go before GSOMIA’s expiration deadline, Seoul announced it would prolong the treaty. But the dispute continues to stymie intelligence cooperation between the two Asian nations.

On Saturday, the South Korean Yonhap News Agency cited “a government source” in reporting that the intelligence chiefs of the United States and Japan would travel to Seoul next week, in order to hold a series of meetings with their South Korean counterpart. Thus, United States Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, and Japan’s Director of Cabinet Intelligence, Hiroaki Takizawa, will meet with Park Jie-won, who heads South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.

The three officials will meet behind closed doors to discuss “strengthening their trilateral intelligence cooperation”, according to the report. There is renewed hope in Seoul and Tokyo that relations between the two nations can be mended, following the election of a new government in Japan earlier this month, under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. The officials are also expected to discuss efforts to re-initiate negotiations with North Korea on a number of issues. Last month, South Korean President Moon Jae-in offered to begin negotiations with North Korea aimed at drafting a formal declaration to officially end the Korean War of 1950-1953.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 18 October 2021 | Permalink

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