Department of Labor spokesman Carl Fillichio refuses to explain what specifically prompted his decision to force journalists participating in "lockups" to receive new jobless and unemployment data in advance to stop using their own computers and begin using government computers.
"I appreciate your concern, but we're not going to comment on security issues," Fillichio said during a DOL supervised conference call with interested journalists that is continuing as this post is composed. "I certainly think the integrity and security of the department's data is our paramount concern."
Fillichio would only say that two journalists commited unspecified violations during the past two years. Pressed by mutliple reporters about the problem he is trying to solve by forcing participating journalists to use only government computers, the Labor spokesman declined to provide any additional explanation.
Asked a third time by this journalist about what problem gave rise to the decision, Fillichio simply reiterated his insistence that he will not discuss security issues. When I asked about the nature of violations committed by two journalists, he refused to provide any additional information.
UPDATE: No guarantees of level playing field
Asked by a journalist from one of the wire services why DOL is imposing "these draconian measures" and whether the internet connections the government provides will restore lost connections at the same speed for all participatants, Fillichio would only say "this is what we are offering."
Asked by the same journalist if he would guarantee a level playing field, Fillichio replied: "we're not guaranteeing anything."
UPDATE: No change in data delivery to White House
New data will be transmitted to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and the White House in the same way it is currently done, Fillichio said. "There will be no changes in the data distribution process," he said.
Solis receives the new data at 8 am, he said, but neither she nor anybody in the White House comments on it until after the 8:30 embargo is expired.