Dead Drop: September 1

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT:  The news/opinion site The Intercept apparently has intercepted a recent internal policy directive from the head of the National Security Agency, General Paul Nakasone, in which the general instructed his employees to treat the foreign targets of intelligence gathering “with dignity and respect.” The Intercept published the 14-page policy directive they intercepted. The document says that “In recognition that SIGINT activities must take into account that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their nationality or wherever they might reside, and that all persons have legitimate privacy interests in the handling of their personal information as required by Executive Order 14086 (Reference a), the USSS shall…” and then there is a lot of bureaucratic whereases and wherefores. (“USSS” is the United States Signals Intelligence System.) If real, we’re guessing that the document may have been issued in an effort to calm fears in some quarters that NSA and company might get carried away in their electronic eavesdropping. Somehow, we’re not sure this promise of “dignity and respect” is going to mollify all the critics.

TREAT YOUR TRAITORS WITH RESPECT: If you think that last item was hard to believe – wait till you hear this one. A website calling itself The Brush Pass has a wild tale about James Harper, a Silicon-Valley based entrepreneur, who has been in jail since the mid 1980’s after being convicted of selling highly-sensitive classified information to the Polish intelligence service which, in turn, was passing it on to the Soviets. Having a lot of time on his hands while doing time – Harper reportedly has been submitting FOIA requests about his own case. Sometime in the 1990s, the imprisoned Harper FOIA’d for the Pentagon damage assessment on his case.  But someone in DoD got a little confused and mistakenly redacted (blacked out) only the unclassified parts…and sent in the clear – only the classified portions of the document.  Harper subsequently made the mistake of sending another FOIA request for the same document – and someone in DoD reportedly figured out how they had screwed up the first request. The Pentagon got the prison warden to confiscate the secret version. It is unclear how many months/years elapsed with Harper having the sensitive bits in his cell – and if there would have been anything to prevent him from making a copy or auctioning it off to the highest bidder. The whole Harper tale is told in a podcast called Spy Valley.

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