MESSAGE TO LEAKERS: “DON’T DO IT”
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 4, 2017) — At 11:00 a.m. EDT, Attorney General Jeff Sessions began a press conference on the topic of “unauthorized disclosures” from government files to the media and new steps he will take to stop them.
“Simply put, these leaks hurt our country,” Sessions said at 11:05. “We are taking a stand; this culture of leaking must stop.”
“Criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information…are, in fact, being investigated and will be prosecuted,” Sessions continued, indicating that leak investigations have increased threefold over the last several months.
He called the constant leaks of information, including transcripts of President Trump’s conversations with world leaders, “unprecedented.”
“The Department of Justice is open for business…I have this message for would-be leaders: ‘Don’t do it,'” Sessions said.
He then outlined specific measures he is taking to prosecute “those who would abuse the public trust,” including that a “new, counterintelligence unit” has been formed to find leakers.
He also addressed the media, whose right to information he acknowledged. However, he said that that access “is not unlimited” in the interest of protecting American lives.
“This nation must end this culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice…” Sessions said at 11:10, adding that such probes “are never easy.”
“An investigation of a leak is too late, really,” Sessions said, stressing that the key is to prevent leaks from occurring.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats then spoke, confirming that intelligence has been released to both the media and foreign countries.
“These unauthorized disclosures endanger the safety and security of Americans across the country,” Coats said, stating that the executive branch and Congress have been involved in leaks. “We will simply not tolerate the illegal release of classified information.”
A review of security clearances will be carried out, he added.
“Anyone who engages in these criminal acts is betraying the intelligence community and the American people,” Coats stated. Addressing himself to leakers, he said that they will be found and prosecuted. “You will not be happy with the result,” he pledged.
The presser ended at 11:17 a.m. EDT.