- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2010

The State Department and other U.S. agencies are not fully cooperating with lawmakers’ efforts to probe the WikiLeaks security breach, according to the Republican likely to be the next chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican and a senior member of the intelligence committee, said government officials seem “more concerned about their department’s reputation than the consequences [of the leak], and that is a big problem.”

“They’ve been obstructionist up to this point,” Mr. Rogers told The Washington Times. “They need an attitude adjustment.”

He joins a growing chorus of Democrats and Republicans who are finding fault with the government’s post-Sept. 11 information-sharing system, which aims to push intelligence reporting toward the front lines of the war on terrorism.

“Clearly, the rush to share everything with everyone has gone too far,” Mr. Rogers said. “Clearly, there’ll be changes.”

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told The Times in a brief e-mailed statement late Thursday that access arrangements to classified department data were “fully consistent with the 2004 Intelligence Reform Act that Congress passed — and rightly so.”

He added officials “have taken steps and will take more to prevent this from happening again.” But he cautioned, “We have to make sure we avoid actions that move to the information silos and controls that we had on Sept. 11.”

That sentiment was echoed by Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland Democrat, who chaired part of the intelligence committee briefing on the WikiLeaks breach this week that Mr. Rogers attended.

Mr. Ruppersberger noted that a half-million people have access to the network that was reportedly compromised - a classified Pentagon computer system called SIPRNet.

“How did we get to the point where a private with a questionable background has that kind of access?” he said. “We members of Congress … don’t have that kind of access.”

He was referring to a low-level military analyst, Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, who has been charged in connection with the breach and is accused of downloading hundreds of thousands of secret documents from SIPRNet.

Pfc. Manning has been in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., since July. His attorney has said that before the breach, Pfc. Manning’s superiors were so concerned about his mental health that they disabled his weapon. He also was admonished while a trainee for inappropriately referencing classified material in personal videos he posted on the Web.

Neither incident appears to have restricted his top-secret clearance or his access to SIPRNet.

Former users of SIPRNet say the network is set up very much like the Internet, with users employing a Web browser to visit sites maintained by different U.S. agencies on which they display material classified up to the lowest level - secret.

“It is basically a parallel Internet, classified at the secret level,” said Adam Rice, a security specialist who used the network when he was in the Army Special Forces.

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