21 November, 2012
The National Security Agency has shot down a
Freedom of Information Act request for details about an elusive
presidential order that may allow the government to deploy the military
within the United States for the supposed sake of
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
reports on Tuesday that their recent FOIA request for information about
a top-secret memo signed last month by US
President Barack Obama has been rejected (click below images):
Now attorneys for EPIC say they plan to file an
appeal to get to the bottom of
Presidential Policy Directive 20.
Although the executive order has been on the books for a month now, only
last week did details emerge about the order after the Washington Post
reported that Pres. Obama’s signature to the top-secret directive could
allow the White House to send in recruits from the Pentagon to protect
Because Presidential Policy Directive 20 is classified, the exact
wording of the elusive document has been a secret kept only by those with
first-hand knowledge of the memo.
For their November 14 article, the Post spoke
with sources that saw the document to report that the directive,
“effectively enables the military to act
more aggressively to thwart cyberattacks on the nation’s web of
government and private computer networks.”
In response to the Post’s report, EPIC filed a
FOIA request to find out if the policy directive could mean military
deployment within the United States, especially since the sources who have
seen the memo say it allows the Pentagon to pursue actions against
adversaries within a vaguely described terrain known only as
“What it does, really for the first time, is
it explicitly talks about how we will use cyber-operations,” a senior
administration official told the Post.
“Network defense is what you’re doing inside
your own networks... Cyber-operations is stuff outside that space, and
recognizing that you could be doing that for what might be called
“We’d like to see what the language says and see what power is given,”
EPIC attorney Amie Stepanovich told RT this week - a matter that will
now have to be appealed before any details can be determined.
News of the directive comes just as lawmakers in
Congress failed once again to approve a cybersecurity legislation that would
provide new connections between the federal government and the private
sector in order to supposedly ramp up the United States’ protection from
With the defeat of that bill, though, members of
both the House and Senate now say they expect
to sign a separate executive order that will lay down the groundwork for a
more thorough cybersecurity plan to be established.
Meanwhile, the commander-in-chief has already signed a secret order -
Presidential Policy Directive 20 - that might remain classified unless EPIC
can win in court.
“We believe that the public hasn’t been able
to involve themselves in the cybersecurity debate, and the reason they
can’t involve themselves is because they don’t have the right amount of
information,” Stepanovich tells RT.
Responding to the FOIA request,
says releasing information on the directive cannot occur because,
“disclosure could reasonably be expected to
cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”
“Because the document is currently and properly classified, it is exempt
from disclosure,” the NSA writes.