CBS News Logo First daughter Ivanka Trump given West Wing office, access to classified information

Last Updated Mar 21, 2017 8:28 PM EDT WASHINGTON -- Ivanka Trump is working out of a West Wing office and will get access to classified information as a way of cementing her role as a powerful White House influence, though she’s not technically serving as a government employee, according to an attorney for the first daughter. Since President Trump took office, his eldest daughter has been a visible presence in the White House, where her husband, Jared Kushner, already serves as a senior adviser. On Friday, she participated in a meeting on vocational training with the president and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Ivanka Trump, said Monday that the first daughter will not have an official title, but will get a West Wing office, government-issued communications devices and security clearance to access classified information. Gorelick said Ivanka Trump would follow the ethics rules that apply to government employees. “Ivanka will advise her father and assist on initiatives that are important to her. She will not be an employee, but will abide by the ethics restrictions applicable to employees,” Gorelick said in a statement to CBS News.“She will get a security clearance. It is not the intention that she will participate in classified matters but rather that, if she happens to come into possession of such information while in the White House, such information will be properly protected,” he added. Gorelick also helped Kushner with the legal strategy that led to his White House appointment.Ivanka Trump, Justin Trudeau spotted at Broadway showWH clears Kellyanne Conway for “inadvertently” promoting Ivanka Trump brandIvanka Trump’s role has already come under scrutiny because there is little precedent for a member of the first family with this kind of influence. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A person with knowledge of Ivanka Continue Reading

CBS News Logo What is classified information, and who gets to decide?

Jeffrey Fields  is an associate professor of the practice of international relations at the University of Southern California – Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. Before coming to academia, I worked for many years as an analyst at both the State Department and the Department of Defense. I held a top secret clearance, frequently worked with classified information and participated in classified meetings. Classified information is that which a government or agency deems sensitive enough to national security that access to it must be controlled and restricted. For example, I dealt with information related to weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation. Handling written classified information is generally straightforward. Documents are marked indicating classification levels. It is sometimes more difficult to remember, however, whether specific things heard or learned about in meetings or oral briefings are classified. Government employees sometimes reveal classified details accidentally in casual conversations and media interviews. We may not hear about it because it's not in the interviewee's or employee's interest to point it out after the fact, or he or she may not even realize it at the time. In 1991, Sen. David Boren accidentally revealed the name of a clandestine CIA agent during a news conference. At the time, Boren was no less than chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Not all revelations of classified details are earth-shattering, like nuclear launch codes. Many are are rather mundane. A former colleague of mine who was a retired CIA analyst used to tell his students he would never knowingly, but almost certainly would inadvertently, share a tidbit of classified information in the classroom. It is very difficult to remember many "smaller" details that are sensitive. Dealing with large amounts of classified information over a career increases the possibility of accidentally sharing a small nugget. Sharing Continue Reading

Democrats purposely included classified information in memo: Letters

By Letters to the Editor | | February 12, 2018 at 6:00 pm Re “Is the Nunes memo worth the buildup?” (Question of the Week, Feb. 5): Democrats had no factual rebuttals to the FISA memo from Congressman Devin Nunes, and then produced one of their own, intentionally packed with classified information. Why? So that when President Trump refused to release their memo — after being warned by the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice that its contents could jeopardize national security — the Dems and their media pals could accuse the president of concealing the truth. — Michael Logan, Pasadena Collusion of misinformation If you regard the memo as plausible, you’re playing the game. If you disregard the memo, you get to keep your credibility and patriotism with a sincere concern about finding the truth. If you have to lie over 2,000 times, last time I checked, that’s called lack of credibility. Devin Nunes is on his way with his collusion of misinformation, carrying Trump’s water from the White House back to the intelligence committee, which is obviously penned by both of them. There’s nothing there except a willingness to release classified information as to obfuscate the truth. As to Hillary’s emails, the hypocrisy is astounding but not surprising because the Republicans have no shame and frankly don’t give a damn, as proven by their overwhelming unfavorable tax bill. Paul Revere’s midnight ride was patriotic. Nunes’ midnight ride was cloak and dagger, secretive, kind of like a Russian spy. Not once, but twice.At this point I think the only way to make America great again is to lock them all up for aiding and abetting the liar in chief! — Erik Eskelin, Woodland Hills ‘Andy Griffith Show’ was more interesting So, President Donald Trump feels that the congressional Democrats were “treasonous” and “un-American” because they did not applaud during his Continue Reading

Donald Trump gets first classified intelligence briefing, says he won’t use the information if elected anyway

Intelligence is so overrated. Donald Trump, who got his first classified intelligence briefing Wednesday, said he probably wouldn’t rely on the critical information anyway if he ends up in the Oval Office. “Very easy to use them, but I won’t use them, because they’ve made such bad decisions,” he told “Fox & Friends,” referring to the intel briefings about supposed weapons of mass destruction that led President George W. Bush to go to war in Iraq. “If we would have never touched it, it would have been a lot better,” said Trump, who proudly declared earlier this year that “I love the poorly educated.” Asked whether he trusted the classified intelligence he was about to be given access to, Trump told the network, “Not so much from the people that have been doing it for our country, I mean look what’s happened over the last 10 years ... it’s been catastrophic.” Trump, nevertheless, was spotted heading into the FBI’s field office in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon, with the mogul arriving for the supposedly covert meeting in a massive motorcade. Two of the mogul’s top confidants, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, both reportedly accompanied Trump to the briefing. Before heading downtown, Trump held what his campaign dubbed a “security round table,” providing various news networks with shaky, soundless cell phone video of Trump sitting around a boardroom table at Trump Tower alongside a cadre of other men. Among those seated was Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.), who did not respond to questions from the Daily News about what was discussed at the meeting. The intelligence briefing later Wednesday — led by staffers from the office of the director of national intelligence — likely included information on threats and emerging concerns from around the globe. Continue Reading

Bradley Manning trial begins 3 years after arrest for largest leak of classified info in U.S. history

FORT MEADE, Md. — Pfc. Bradley Manning went on trial Monday for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including sensitive information prosecutors said fell into enemy hands. Manning, a 25-year-old former intelligence analyst from Oklahoma, has admitted to giving troves of information to WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history, but military prosecutors want to prove Manning he also aided the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence. They said they will present evidence that former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden asked for and received information WikiLeaks published. "This is a case of about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information," Capt. Joe Morrow said in his opening statement. Manning's supporters hail him as a whistleblowing hero and political prisoner. Others say he is a traitor who endangered lives and national security. "This, your honor, this is a case about a soldier who systematically harvested hundreds of thousands of documents from classified databases and then dumped that information on to the Internet into the hands of the enemy," Morrow said. Defense attorney David Coombs said Manning was "young, naive, but good-intentioned." Coombs said Manning selectively leaked material he believed could make the world a better place, mentioning an unclassified video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack that killed civilians, including a Reuters photographer. "He believed this information showed how we value human life. He was troubled by that. He believed that if the American public saw it, they too would be troubled," Coombs said. In his dress blue uniform and wire-rimmed eye glasses, the slightly built Manning followed a slide show of the prosecutor's hour-long opening statement, watching on a laptop computer at the defense table. The slide show also was projected on three larger screens in the Continue Reading

Even if Trump revealed classified intel to Russia, it’s still classified for everyone else

WASHINGTON –  If the commander-in-chief gives sensitive information to people without security clearances, can everyone else know it, too?It seems the answer is no.Revelations that President Trump may have revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian diplomats this week dominated headlines in Washington this week. Yet any classified intelligence Trump reportedly passed on to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in their Oval Office meeting would remain classified for everyone else, secrecy experts say.If there was no formal, written change in the classification status of the information, "no one else in the administration would have any reason to believe that it was no longer classified,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy.A government lawyer would argue that, because this was a private meeting, a disclosure by Trump "did not serve to declassify the information," said Mark Zaid, an attorney specializing in national security matters."The mere fact that it then appears in the papers, either specifically or generally….none of that serves to declassify any of the information unless an authority in the U.S. government acknowledges it," Zaid said.Presidents have broad authority to disclose classified information. Even though every other government employee with a clearance risks criminal charges for revealing classified information without permission, Trump has the power to unilaterally disclose any material without any formal process.Trump on Tuesday defended his "very, very successful" meeting with the Russians. "As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," Trump tweeted. "Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against Continue Reading

Here’s what we know about Trump disclosing classified intel to Russian officials

President Trump reportedly disclosed highly classified information when he met with top Russian diplomats last week. Here's what we know now.Last week, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. It attracted special attention since it was the only public event listed on Trump's schedule just one day after he fired FBI director James Comey, who was running the agency's ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign associates and Russians seeking to influence the American presidential election. While U.S. media was barred from taking photos of the meeting, the Russian-owned TASS news agency circulated photos of their meeting.According to The Washington Post, Trump described highly classified details of an Islamic State threat related to using laptop computers on aircraft. He also reportedly revealed the city in the Islamic State's territory where the U.S. partner detected the threat, which could damage a critical source of intelligence on the terrorist group.The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the classified intelligence came from Israel, a major intelligence collector in the Middle East. Israeli officials did not confirm that they were the source of the intel.In early morning tweets, the president said on Twitter that he has a right to share facts about terrorism."As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety," he wrote Tuesday. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism."Trump's explanation appeared to differ in tone from the statements by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, who on Monday denied the Post report."The story that came out Continue Reading

WikiLeaks backfire? Posting classified documents may make government more secretive, not more open

WikiLeaks wants governments to be more open, but its recent data dumps appear to be making them more protective of their secrets. In response to the release of nearly 250,000 documents on Sunday by the whistle-blower website, which has been condemned by United States officials, the Pentagon has tightened restrictions on how classified documents are handled. "It is now much more difficult for a determined actor to get access to and move information outside of authorized channels," Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said in a written statement following the recent WikiLeaks data dump. Even President Obama, who promised a more transparent government in the wake of the Bush administration and 9/11, called for a crackdown on protecting secrets. "Any unauthorized disclosure of classified information is a violation of our law and compromises our national security," the White House Office of Management and Budget director, Jacob Lew, said in a memo, according to reports. "We are taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday. As per recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, the government had been making efforts to loosen once tight controls over information between departments. This was done in response to fears that the lack of communication allowed the deadly attacks in 2001 to go undetected, because departments such as the FBI and CIA were not communicating effectively. "Departments and agencies have taken significant steps to reduce... obstacles," Whitman said. "The work that has been done to date has resulted in considerable improvement in information-sharing and increased cooperation across government operations." However, it's feared this has also made it easier for information to be leaked. The Department of Defense has issued new policies to protect intelligence, including more oversight and tighter controls on who has access. Joel Brenner, the nation's top Continue Reading

Spy Agencies Turn to Newspapers, NPR, and Wikipedia for Information

A few days ago, a senior officer at the Pentagon called his intelligence officer into his office. The boss had heard a news report about China while driving to his office and wanted some answers. It wasn't a tough assignment, given the news coverage, but there was a hitch. "There was plenty of information in the public domain about the topic," recalls the intelligence officer, a 10-year veteran. "And yet, if there wasn't some classified information cited in my report, the boss would never believe it was accurate." The officer calls it "the seduction of the 'top-secret' stamp." That's a common refrain in the intelligence community when the subject of so-called open-source information comes up. It's the kind of anecdote recounted over and over again this week at the intelligence community's second annual conference on the use of open-source information. Another anecdote involves public information--commonly newspaper reports--that is paraphrased or quoted verbatim and then stamped "classified" to make the report more appealing to superiors. Yet it's a practice that might be changing. The use of nonclassified information, whether news accounts or other publicly retrievable information, is gaining credibility within the intelligence community. And officials say there can be good reasons for putting some of that open-source information under the secrecy umbrella. "The information might be unclassified but our interest in it is not," Gen. Michael Hayden, head of the CIA, told the conference. More than 15,000 people in the intelligence community now use the limited-access portal for information. "By using open-source information, we can distribute it more widely among our customers in the State Department than we could if it was classified. Not everyone who works with the State Department has top-secret clearance," says James Bell, acting director of the Office of Research at the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. In Continue Reading

David Petraeus, former top U.S. general, pleads guilty to misdemeanor in leak of classified data, likely to avoid prison

Ex-CIA boss David Petraeus confessed Tuesday to slipping his much-younger mistress classified “black books” filled with covert material as fodder for a fawning autobiography. The philandering former four-star general capped his plunge from Washington A-lister to lying adulterer with a plea bargain to dodge an embarrassing trial — and likely jail time. Petraeus and his hard-bodied biographer Paula Broadwell began an affair after she worked closely with him for her book “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.” The one-time commander of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan copped to a single misdemeanor count of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material in court papers filed Tuesday. The military hero, 62, will appear in court on a yet-to-be-determined date to enter his plea to the charge linked to his steamy relationship with Broadwell, 42, the married mother of two. As part of the agreement, prosecutors recommended two years’ probation rather than any prison sentence as the last chapter in Petraeus’ self-induced tumble, the Justice Department announced. The charge carries a possible one-year prison term, along with a $100,000 fine and five years of probation. The deal was reached with prosecutors in Charlotte, N.C., home to his former mistress. The judge who will hear the Petraeus plea is not obligated to follow the prosecution deal, and could toss the disgraced ex-general behind bars. Prosecutors recommended a $40,000 fine in the agreement, and the former general agreed that he would not contest the facts in the government’s case. Petraeus, married since 1975, was accused of sharing the eight binders of information with Broadwell as she worked on the book that came out in early 2012. At the time, Petraeus was perhaps the nation’s most-admired military officer and considered a Continue Reading