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Thread: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces broad crackdown on leaks

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces broad crackdown on leaks

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces broad crackdown on leaks

    Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY
    Published 11:22 a.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017 | Updated 11:34 a.m. ET Aug. 4, 2017

    WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a broad crackdown on unauthorized disclosures of classified information Friday, demanding that the "culture of leaking must stop."

    Since January, Sessions said the Justice Department has “more than tripled" the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the Obama administration.

    The Justice Department has already received nearly as many criminal referrals involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information than in the previous three years combined. And Sessions said the department has already charged four people with unlawfully disclosing classified material or concealing their contacts with foreign intelligence officers.

    "I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don't do it," Sessions said. "I strongly agree with the president and condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks," he said.

    Sessions also offered a warning to the press, saying that prosecutors have launched a review of Justice Department policy related to subpoenas involving media organizations.

    "We respect the important role that the press has and we give them respect, but it is not unlimited," Sessions said. "They cannot place lives at risk with impunity."

    Sessions also denounced high-profile leaks about Trump's conversations with foreign leaders.

    On Thursday, The Washington Post published complete transcripts of Trump's first calls with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

    The announcement comes just days President Trump called on Sessions to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies, which he said last week "are leaking like rarely have they ever leaked before at a very important level. We cannot have that happen."

    Yet Trump’s anger about the leaks of sensitive and classified information was ignited even before his inauguration.

    Less than two weeks before taking office, Trump unleashed a vehement attack against U.S. intelligence agencies, accusing them of leaking the contents of a lurid, unsubstantiated dossier compiled on Trump.

    Intelligence officials denied leaking the document, which had been widely circulated among lawmakers and journalists before its publication.

    Yet, hours after the dossier’s public disclosure Jan. 10, Trump lashed out at the intelligence agencies, blaming them and comparing their alleged actions to the gestapo tactics of “Nazi Germany.’’

    The president’s public criticism stunned intelligence officials, prompting then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper to call the president-elect in defense of the agencies.

    The sting of Trump’s remarks still linger.

    Last month, former CIA Director John Brennan called Trump’s “disparagement’’ of the intelligence community as “disgraceful.’’

    On Friday, Sessions appeared alongside Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina.
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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    Sessions Warns Media: DOJ May Target Reporters Over Leaks

    Attorney general ramps up efforts to end damaging disclosures, promises prosecutions

    by Brendan Kirby | Updated 04 Aug 2017 at 1:29 PM

    Vowing to stomp out a “culture of leaking,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested Friday that he might go after journalists.

    In announcing a crackdown on leaks, Sessions said he was taking the advice of career prosecutors in reviewing the Justice Department’s policy on media subpoenas. He said he respects the role of a free press.

    “But it is not unlimited,” he said. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role with protection of our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, our armed forces, and all law-abiding Americas.”

    Brian Stelter, CNN's chief media correspondent, noted on air that Sessions did not take questions after delivering his statement.

    "That kind of empty rhetoric demands evidence. It demands proof," he said.

    Ken Boehm, chairman of a Washington ethics group called the National Legal and Policy Center, told LifeZette that it is arguably illegal for reporters to knowingly disseminate classified information. But he said the First Amendment and sensitivities complicate prosecuting journalists or holding them in contempt of court.

    "It's harder to do," he said, adding that the simpler route may just be to identify and prosecute the leakers. "No administration wants to be seen as tromping on the line or too lose to the line."

    President Donald Trump's administration has been beset by an avalanche of damaging leaks, some involving classified information and national security, and some that merely have been politically embarrassing. During a multi-day Twitter barrage against his attorney general, the president specifically mentioned a failure by the Justice Department to stop leaks.

    On Friday, Sessions responded forcefully. He said the Justice Department has received almost as many referrals involving unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information in the past six months as the previous three years combined.

    "Simply put, these leaks hurt our government," he said.

    Sessions said the department already has made progress, including indictments of four people. He said active leak investigations at the Justice Department have tripled since he took office and added that he has beefed up staffing directed at ferreting out leaks.

    Sessions said he has instructed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to personally oversee those probes. He said he also has instructed prosecutors throughout the government to prioritize leaking cases and that the FBI has created a new counterintelligence unit to address the issue.

    "A culture of leaking cannot take hold," he said.

    Sessions' message to the intelligence community, he added, is that the Department of Justice is open for business.

    "And I have this warning for would-be leakers — don't do it," he said.

    National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said leaks can jeopardize lives.

    "In the last several years, the U.S. intelligence community has experienced some of the worst compromises in our nation's history … We will simply not tolerate the illegal release of classified information," he said.

    All administrations suffer leaks. But the Trump administration has suffered nearly daily cuts.

    "It is unprecedented," said Boehm, of the ethics watchdog. "Most of the leaks, I believe, are due to the fact that there are so many holdovers from the previous administration."

    Boehm noted that President Ronald Reagan demanded immediate resignations of all political appointees of former President Jimmy Carter.

    "He wasn't the first," he said. "I'm sure he's not going to be the last to do so."

    Coats said there are plenty of avenues for government employees to report wrongdoing, including channels within the intelligence community protecting whistleblowers and congressional intelligence committees. But he and Sessions said they would not tolerate disgruntled employees using classified information to settle scores.

    "No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight to advance battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information," Sessions said.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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