Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees are undergoing mandatory classes as part of a Trump administration effort to stop unauthorized disclosures to the press.
“Enemies of the United States are relentless in their pursuit of information which they can exploit to harm U.S. interests,” according to a three-page fact sheet given to workers.
Materials given to some of the employees, which were obtained by The Hill, use stark terms to warn about the consequences of leaking information.
Few EPA employees handle classified information, but agency leadership is also trying to ensure that workers do not disclose “controlled unclassified information.”
“[F]ederal employees, federal contractors and specifically assigned personnel, have a special responsibility to properly protect classified information and CUI from any unauthorized disclosure,” an EPA fact sheet stated.
Leaks across the government have angered leaders at all levels, particularly President Trump. At the EPA, employees have divulged policy plans, information about Administrator Scott Pruitt’s activities and information about alleged discord among workers.
“It’s ironic that we have an anti-leaking story that is rooted from a leaked memo,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said of the materials.
The training materials cover espionage and hacks in addition to leaks, with examples of each – such as The Washington Post uncovering a “highly successful,” and subsequently halted, program in 1972 that allowed the U.S. to intercept Soviet telephone conversations in limousines.
“The unauthorized disclosure of classified information or controlled unclassified information (CUI) harms our nation and shakes the confidence of the American people,” Donna Vizian, the acting assistant administrator for resources, said in a message to employees.
The advice given to EPA employees includes marking sensitive information properly, avoiding trying to “talk around” sensitive facts and speaking with supervisors to confirm who is authorized to see the information.