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Josh Rogin

Homeland Security Is Spilling a Lot of Secrets

A leaked report gives other agencies a reason to avoid sharing information.


Photographer: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security suffered over 100 "spills" of classified information last year, and 40 percent of those traced back to headquarters came from one office, according to a leaked internal document I obtained. Officials and lawmakers told me that until the Department imposes stricter policies and sounder practices to better protect sensitive intelligence, the vulnerabilities there could be exploited. Not only does this raise the threat that hostile actors could get their hands on classified information, but may lead to other U.S. agencies keeping DHS out of the loop on major security issues.

A spill is not the same as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information. A Homeland Security official explained that spills often include “the accidental, inadvertent, or intentional introduction of classified information into an unclassified information technology system, or higher-level classified information into a lower-level classified information technology system, to include non-government systems.”