End the Leaks
Jeff Sessions is ramping up investigations because leaks have become incredibly damaging and frequent.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced last week that he’s ramping up investigations into White House leaks, including those involving classified and sensitive data. That such information is finding its way so regularly into the public through media publication reveals the magnitude of the problem.
In his press conference, Sessions warned leakers, “Just don’t do it.” He revealed that in the first six months of the Trump administration the Department of Justice logged “nearly as many criminal referrals involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information as we received in the last three years combined.” Commensurate to the complaints, the DOJ has launched triple the number of “active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the last administration,” with four individuals already charged with “unlawfully disclosing classified material or with concealing contacts with foreign intelligence officers.” The investigations are being managed by a newly formed counterintelligence unit.
Sessions’ remarks referenced, almost without notice, that the leaks were not just intended to create salacious news. The AG noted, “We are here today to talk about the dramatic growth in the number of unauthorized disclosures of classified national security information in the past several months. This includes leaks to both the media and in some cases even unauthorized disclosures to our foreign adversaries” [emphasis added]. Those leaks could rise to the level of treason.
What exactly is a leak of information?
In a closed system created for the security and the protection of critically sensitive and classified information, as in the cases Sessions noted, leaks are the unauthorized distribution of information to other unauthorized individuals or entities. Most leaks, even if not of a classified or sensitive nature, certainly betray the trust of the leaker to his or her role within a closed system to remain loyal to the mission or cause. Leakers who are advancing an agenda (as opposed to, say, whistleblowing on a real problem) should be fired.
The result of Barack Obama’s loosening of processes and oversight in surveilled data captured by the National Security Agency has permitted an exponential growth in the number of individuals with access to collected data and even “unmasking” that information, which reveals the identity of the individual targeted with surveillance. In the case of the Obama administration’s activity in the waning months of the 2016 presidential election, there is evidence that Trump campaign and transition team officials were surveilled and unmasked with no apparent value to national security.
Severely impacting the Trump White House was the publication last week of complete transcripts provided to The Washington Post of Trump’s January phone conversations with both Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. This leak seems to have become a screaming siren of alarm to not only Republicans but now a few Democrats.
Obama’s former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor declared, “I would’ve lost my mind if transcripts of Obama’s calls to foreign leaders leaked.” Former George W. Bush speechwriter and avid anti-Trumper David Frum launched into his piece in The Atlantic with this proclamation: “Leaking the transcript of a presidential call to a foreign leader is unprecedented, shocking, and dangerous.” Frum argues that the contempt held by the intelligence community for President Trump’s “irregular actions” regarding intelligence data wrongly justifies its own counter misconduct or irregular actions.
Due to the repeated leaks of private conversations between world leaders, immeasurable damage is done through the erosion of trust. First, there’s the erosion of trust among those employed to serve America and its interests. Second, faith degrades among international leaders who must be able to communicate candidly with America’s president and other leaders.
In times past, leaks have exposed real corruption, such as the illegal tapes of the Richard Nixon administration. The leaks of the Trump era emanate from individuals within the White House, as well as apparently from members of the intelligence community and even from members of Congress, and they do not serve the interests of America. Instead, these leaks serve the political agenda of the Left’s obnoxious #Resist movement.
While Sessions’ tough stance on leakers was praised by President Trump after a few weeks of baffling public humiliation, there was one aspect of his press conference that almost caused asphyxiation among the press, and it wasn’t about the release of info to foreign adversaries.
Sessions concluded his remarks stating, “I have listened to career investigators and prosecutors about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters. At their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas. We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the Armed Forces, and all law-abiding Americans.”
Yes, folks, some of the leaked information places lives at risk. The issue of leaks is not about a 10-second chyron that crawls across TV screens as breaking news. It’s not about the self-identified celebrities who are journalistic posers. It’s not about members of Congress or White House advisers building political capital by dripping inside information. The issue is trust and security.
The Society of Professional Journalists declares this profession must be “accurate and fair.” Further, as professionals, “Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”
For members of Congress and the intelligence community, you took an Oath of Office to support and defend the Constitution. Those within the NSA, your oath includes an affirmation of the integrity of secure information and offenses may rise to charges of espionage.
Those making these dangerous choices to betray American intelligence to enhance their own interests must be exposed, prosecuted and jailed. End the leaks by jailing the criminals.