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Limit access to most secret US documents, Senate intel panel head says


U.S. Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia and Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, holds a hearing about worldwide threats, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., April 14, 2021. Saul Loeb/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

Too many people have access to the U.S. government’s closest secrets and a central entity should oversee the classification process, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said on Sunday, addressing leaks of documents in an online chat group.

A U.S. Air National Guardsman was charged on April 14 with leaking classified documents online in what is believed to be the most serious U.S. security breach since more than 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2010.

Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, told ABC News that “once we get to that highest level of classification, we maybe have too many folks taking a look at them, over 4 million people with clearances.”

The Virginia senator’s powerful position gives weight to his recommendations as President Joe Biden’s administration examines the handling of intelligence and looks for ways to clamp down on future leaks.

The United States has numerous intelligence gathering entities and Warner said the situation needed to be dealt with.

“We need somebody fully in charge of the whole classification process and I think for those classified documents there ought to be a smaller universe,” he said.

As an example, Warner said the National Security Agency has suffered leaks in the past and internal controls limit the copying of documents.

The Pentagon has called the latest leak a “deliberate, criminal act.”

Warner also said that not everyone handling a document needs to see the whole document and that just seeing the header could be enough.

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