Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn reportedly installed a secret internet connection into his office at the Pentagon even though it was “forbidden,” according to a new profile in The New Yorker by Dana Priest.
The network connection was reportedly among other rules the former chief of the Defence Intelligence Agency broke because he found them to be “stupid,” including his sometimes unauthorised sneaking out of a CIA station in Iraq and his sharing of classified information with NATO allies without approval.
While Flynn — who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump’s national security adviser — apparently had his own private connection, the New Yorker profile doesn’t provide a clear picture as to why.
It’s likely his Pentagon office already had an authorised, unclassified connection to the Internet called NIPRNet, which is separate from classified networks such as SIPRNet and JWICS, a former DIA analyst told Business Insider.
All of those networks are monitored in some way. A separate, unknown network would not have had the same — or possibly any — level of monitoring. If it were implemented in secret, it would also not have the same protections from hackers that a known connection would have.
It’s also possible that Flynn’s Pentagon office was known as a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility — a secure facility in which intelligence can be discussed without fear of it being compromised. Network connections in SCIFs are closely controlled, and outside electronics such as mobile phones are not allowed inside.
“If his office was a SCIF, then that would be really bad,” the DIA analyst said. “But there are so many unknowns.”
Whether or not his office was a SCIF, the possibility of an external internet connection being installed in violation of facility rules drew parallels to former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who was often criticised by the general on the campaign trail for using a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“So there seems to be a standard for the Clintons that’s not the same standard for the rest of America,” Flynn told The Heritage Foundation of what would happen if someone at DIA had done what Clinton had done.
Spokespersons for DIA and the Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A Trump campaign spokesperson also did not respond.
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