This Does Not Seem Right

May 14, 2019 8:18 p.m.

Federal officials today briefed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Russian hacking of two county voting networks during the 2016 election. But according to DeSantis, they made him sign an NDA that barred him from revealing the details. “I’m not allowed to name the counties. I signed a [non-]disclosure agreement,” said DeSantis.

Now I don’t think we should assume this is a Michael Cohen-style Trump NDA. I believe members of Congress are required to agree not to divulge classified information in order to be waived into the various classified briefings Congress receives. So perhaps the issue is that he was just given the kind of briefing the FBI or DHS or whoever gives members of Congress. But he hadn’t signed whatever agreement members of Congress sign. So this looped him into the system.

But that doesn’t completely add up. Governors must sometimes get briefings on counter-terrorism threats. Those must routinely include classified information. They must have some protocol for dealing with that.

Really the issue isn’t so much whatever he was forced to sign (though that requires more explanation) than the fact that American citizens and Florida residents aren’t allowed to know which counties networks were breached. Maybe disclosing that information would reveal some sources of methods. Perhaps they fear other counties were hacked as well and they don’t want Russian intelligence to know which ones they didn’t detect? Regardless, this seems like a case where disclosure and the public’s right to know should outweigh those concerns.

Something just seems fishy or at least ill-conceived.

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