|NMU||WASHINGTON, D.C.||Newsgathering||Jul 25, 2002|
White House, Pentagon go after leaks
- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggests jail time for official who revealed alleged U.S. attack plan on Iraq to newspapers.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld this week denounced department leaks to the news media, urging Pentagon employees to reveal the name of an official who leaked an alleged U.S. plan to invade Iraq to the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.
“It’s inexcusable, and they ought to be in jail,” Rumsfeld said during a July 21 press briefing. “I think that anyone who has a position where they touch a war plan has an obligation to not leak it to the press or anybody else because it kills people.”
Rumsfeld, a consistent and unabashed critic of leaks, has stepped up his condemnation for such unauthorized disclosures in recent weeks.
In a July 12 memo attached to an unclassified assessment of leaks during the country’s war on terrorism prepared by the CIA, Rumsfeld denounced the improper disclosure of classified information and encouraged defense staff members to put an end to them.
“I have spoken publicly and privately, countless times, about the danger of leaking classified information,” Rumsfeld wrote. “It is wrong. It is against the law. It costs the lives of Americans. It diminishes our country’s chance for success.”
The CIA’s report, in part, determined that the Al-Qaeda terrorist group relied heavily on public information and press reports to help it evade U.S. intelligence operatives.
“A growing body of reporting indicates that al-Qa’ida planners have learned much about our counterterrorist intelligence capabilities from U.S. and foreign media,” the report said. “Information obtained from captured detainees has revealed that al-Qa’ida operatives are extremely security conscious and have altered their practices in response to what they have learned from the press about our capabilities.”
The report further stated that such disclosures jeopardized sensitive intelligence operations even before September 11. Such losses, it concluded, exact considerable costs and time to rebuild.
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press