Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 2:30 PM ET, 11/ 8/2010

CIA Director Panetta warns employees on leaks

By Jeff Stein

Asserting that lives have been endangered and sources compromised by “a damaging spate of media leaks on a wide range of national security issues” in recent months, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta reminded the spy agency’s employees Monday that unauthorized disclosures of classified information “cannot be tolerated.”

“When information about our intelligence, our people, or our operations appears in the media, it does incredible damage to our nation’s security and our ability to do our job of protecting the nation,” Panetta’s agency-wide message said. “More importantly, it could jeopardize lives. For this reason, such leaks cannot be tolerated.”

Informed sources said Panetta, a former Clinton White House chief of staff and California congressman, had no special cases in mind, including the WikiLeaks releases, which have primarily exposed military reports.

But a U.S. intelligence official, speaking on terms of anonymity, said, “A number of leaks over time—and across our government—prompted Panetta to remind agency employees of their obligation to protect America’s secrets. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information can harm national security, and he wanted to emphasize that important point.”

Steve Aftergood, editor of the Federation of American Scientists's Secrecy News, said, "I don't know which particular sources or methods might have been compromised. I think the message itself is part of a familiar socialization process that is intended to instill the notion that leaks are taboo."

"From CIA's point of view," Aftergood added, "there are no good leaks. But of course CIA's point of view is not the only one."

Panetta said the administration has been “taking a hard line” on leaks, “as demonstrated by the prosecutions of a former National Security Agency official, a Federal Bureau of Investigation linguist and a State Department contractor.”

Former NSA official Thomas A. Drake is being prosecuted on charges he provided a reporter with classified information about a program that he said was marred by “waste, mismanagement and a willingness to compromise Americans' privacy without enhancing security,” according to The Post’s Ellen Nakashima.

In May former FBI linguist, Shamai Kedem Leibowitz, also known as Samuel Shamai Leibowitz, 40, was sentenced to 20 months in prison for providing classified documents to an unnamed blogger.

And in August a State Department analyst under contract, Steven Kim, was charged with leaking top secret information about North Korea to a reporter.

“Every officer takes a secrecy oath, which obligates us to protect classified information while we serve at the Agency and after we leave,” Panetta said in his message. “A vast majority of officers live up to their oath, but even a small number of leaks can do great damage.”

In August the newly appointed director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper, sent an internal memo to all 16 agencies in the so-called intelligence community complaining about leaks. It stayed private for only a few hours.

Panetta side-stepped that embarrassment by leaving his message unclassified.

By Jeff Stein  | November 8, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  Intelligence, Justice/FBI, Lawandcourts, Media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Bush: White House bio-war alarm went off in 2002
Next: NYPD intelligence detectives go their own way


They can shut down the call girl ads on CraigsList but they can't shut down WikiLeaks. Explain that to me.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 8, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse


What? Wouldn't a threat of assassination have more weight? How about you will send a drone to get all those leakers?

AlQueda laughs at you, the Russians laugh at you, the Chinese laugh at you and I'd say some in American intelligence laugh at you, too, yes, even when you send drones and ostensibly assassins, too -- Meow, INC.

Gonna make threats, gotta show you can fight with something a little bit more than the Rovian-type IRS Audit Attack via Corporate America and the corporate men in skirts.

What a joke.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | November 8, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr. Panetta - leaks should be prosecuted. However, I note that Bob Woodward's most recent book clearly included leaked information. As Woodward only speaks with top officials, it is the top officials who leaked. Mr. Panetta's words would have more meaning if these officials were called to the carpet. If the classification system is to be respected, then these leaders must practice what is preached.

Posted by: DC20016 | November 8, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought leaks in Washington were standard procedure. Hollywood makes movies about this stuff. Now if a drone happened to be sent to Hollywood no one would own up to it.

Posted by: dangreen3 | November 8, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Leaking is a really bad idea. It's nothing but trouble for anyone who does it. If you have some beef, go work someplace else. That's really the best solution. It should also be obvious that there are other ways of dealing with problems than leaking too.

Posted by: Nymous | November 8, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Problem is that he is the leaker in chief.
Close Gitmo, stop torture to protect our country. This guy is so old that he needs to go back to Ca and find a place for the last few years of his disruptive life. We need someone with a fast thinking brain in charge of the most important agency protecting our country.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | November 8, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

leakers should have accidents...

Posted by: DwightCollins | November 8, 2010 5:35 PM | Report abuse

> “Every officer takes a secrecy oath... ”

That, strictly speaking, isn't true unless you have some expansive definition of "oath." What CIA officers do is to sign a very legalistic conditions-of-employment document that says they agree to protect classified information and are aware of possible civil and criminal penalties for violating the agreement. No standing up, raising the hand and swearing solemn oaths on personal honor or the deity of choice.

Posted by: TexLex | November 8, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company