Welp. That was a nothingburger.
Last week I went out on a limb, leaned a bit forward, with this post. My reasoning was that we already knew there were leak investigations underway, surely Jeff Sessions would not announce a press conference that included director of national intelligence Dan Coats just to announce that he was pissed off about leaks (haha). I won’t make that mistake again because that is exactly what happened.
Here is the official transcript.
Okay, we’re done.
Did AG Jeff Sessions really just waste our time with a press conference to remind us that leaking classified information is illegal? Duh!
— Stefan Molyneux, MA (@StefanMolyneux) August 4, 2017
Seriously, these are the key points.
AG Jeff Sessions, citing leaks, says he's "reviewing policies" for subpoenaing the press. "They cannot place lives at risk with impunity." pic.twitter.com/U35g1QankV
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 4, 2017
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.
Finally, here is what I want to tell every American today: This nation must end the culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice. We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer.
These cases are never easy. But cases will be made, and leakers will be held accountable.
AG Sessions: DOJ has more than tripled the number of active leak investigations compared to the end of the last administration. pic.twitter.com/NUHP4EbTCA
— ABC News (@ABC) August 4, 2017
First, I directed my Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—whose district in Maryland encompassed the NSA headquarters and who has personally led these kinds of investigations— and FBI Director Christopher Wray to oversee all classified leak investigations and actively monitor the progress of each and every case.
Second, I directed the National Security Division and U.S. Attorneys to prioritize cases involving unauthorized disclosures. The Department will not hesitate to bring lawful and appropriate criminal charges against those who abuse the nation’s trust.
Third, as I said, we tripled the number of active leak investigations. In response, the FBI has increased resources devoted to leak cases and created a new counterintelligence unit to manage these cases. Simultaneously, the Department is reviewing policies that impact leak investigations.
And this disappointment:
Since January, the Department has more than tripled the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the last Administration. And we have already charged four people with unlawfully disclosing classified material or with concealing contacts with foreign intelligence officers.
Tripling input with no increase in output is not success. Conflating traditional counterintelligence investigations — at least two of these cases involved the Chinese recruiting Americans — with leaks is disingenuous at best.
Dan Coats’ contribution wasn’t a lot better:
Sessions tells room of reporters he may make it easier to jail them if they don't reveal sources, leaves without taking any press questions.
— Ari Melber (@AriMelber) August 4, 2017
If we can hire more than a dozen high powered prosecutors to investigate heaven knows what, surely we can put the same resources toward suppressing national security leaks.
All in all, this was very much like a James Bond martini. It leaves you shaken not stirred.