Declassified documents in the Central Intelligence Agency’s archives show that while the CIA was looking to include the Freedom Of Information Act in its war on leaks, the National Security Agency was seriously considering using the Espionage Act to target Puzzle Palace author James Bamford for using FOIA.
It’s clear that despite SIGNA Society’s charter reportedly asserting that it has “no relationship whatsoever with its former employer,” such a relationship was ongoing for many years. The Central Intelligence Agency could not only count on these retired security officers to be “on-call” and to aid with recruitment or participate in clandestine live drops, but to proselytize CIA’s word with corporations and the rest of the U.S. Government.
Back in 2010, in response to the publication of the Iraq War Logs leaked by Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Intelligence Community released their official response to WikiLeaks. That report led to official guidance from the Obama administration on how to clamp down on “insider threats,” which in turn sparked a massive discussion on federal employee’s access to classified information, as documents released to Alexa O’Brien reveal.
The SIGNA Society, whose name means “written seal” and whose motto translates as “To have Served is the Greatest Virtue,” is the Central Intelligence Agency’s barely acknowledged secret society of retired security officers. Also, its members are - according to CIA files - not entirely retired.
In August of 1971, the White House directed the Central Intelligence Agency to conduct a “crash study of intelligence leaks” that had appeared in the press since the beginning of the Nixon Administration on January 20, 1969. That study resulted in a new proposal - an Agency created and maintained database of past and present leaks to help track their damage and identify the leakers. While ultimately successful, the creation of the database raised some unexpected questions for CIA, such as who should be responsible for it, what counted as a leak, and did the Agency care?