Attorney General Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Coats Hold a Briefing

Attorney General Sessions: Good morning I want to thank director Coates for being here then coach is one of the finest people I've ever known in public service and have tremendous respect for his integrity and professionalism together we lead the national insider threat task force that was established in 2011 this task force has an important role to play and one we are taking seriously progress has been made and we intend to reach new levels of effectiveness first let me say that I strongly agree with the president and condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks undermining the ability of our government to protect this country just yesterday we saw reports in the media about conversations the President had with foreign leaders no one is entitled to surreptitiously fight to advance battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information no government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders we are here today to talk about the dramatic growth in the number of unauthorized disclosures of classified information on security information in the past several months this includes leads to both the media and in some cases even unauthorized disclosures to our foreign adversaries referrals for investigations of classified leaks to the Department of Justice from our intelligence agencies have exploded in the first six months of this administration the Department of Justice has already received nearly as many criminal referrals involving unauthorized disclosures of classified information as we received in the pre is three years combined classified information by definition is information that if disclosed would do harm to national security as the rector codes will discuss leaks are incredibly damaging to our intelligence mission and capabilities simply put these leaks hurt our country all of us in government can do better the first requirement is for discipline within all our agencies of the government to prevent these leaks every agency and Congress has to do better we are taking a stand this culture of leaking must stop furthering this goal today we are here to announce some steps being taken and underway by the national insider threat task force to ensure the government's first priority to protect this country and her citizens is not undermined by the very people who have been entrusted to protect it while the Department of Justice does not discuss ongoing investigations or confirm specific matters it is important for the American people and those who might be thinking about leaking classified or sensitive information to know that criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information to endanger our national security are in fact being investigated and will be prosecuted since January the department has more than triple the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the last administration and we've already charged for people with unlawfully disclosing classified material or with concealing contacts with federal officers soon after I arrived here in February I initiated a review of our leak investigations and prosecutions I reviewed how these cases were being referred and handled and was concerned with what I found too few referrals too few investigations with the sufficient resources dedicated to them I concluded the unprecedented rise in leaks required an increase of additional support for more investigations and to speed up existing investigations our system here relies on the intelligence community making a determination of whether classified material has been improperly handled or released and then sending referrals to us at the Department of Justice this means it's in vital vital for the intelligence community to know that the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting these referrals and when few investigations take place criminal leaks may occur more often and a culture of leaking can take and take hold so today I have this message for our friends in the intelligence community the Department of Justice is open for business and I have this warning for would-be leakers don't do it for the past several months we've already made changes and are seriously ramping up our efforts first I directed my fine deputy attorney general rod Rosen Stein whose district in Maryland a-come encompasses NSA headquarters and who has personally led investigations of this kind and the investigator FBI director Christopher Rea to oversee all classified leak investigations actively monitor the progress of each and every case secondly I directed a National Security Division of the Department of Justice and our US Attorney's to prioritize cases involving unauthorized disclosures the department will not hesitate to bring lawful and appropriate criminal charges against those who would abuse the public trust third as I have said we tripled the number of active leak investigations in response the FBI has increased resources devoted to leaked cases and created a new counterintelligence unit to manage these cases simultaneously this department is reviewing policies that impact leak investigations and I've listened to our we're investigating as FBI agents and others and our prosecutors about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters as 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 we'll give them respect but it is not unlimited they cannot place lives at risk with impunity we must balance the presses role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in the 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 this 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 these cases to investigate and prosecute are never easy but cases will be made and leakers will be held accountable all of us in government and in every agency in Congress and Congress must do better the first requirement is personal discipline education and repetition within our departments and agencies will make a difference prevention is what is required an investigation of a leak is too late really the damage is done thank you all and I would now recognize Director of National Intelligence dan coats good morning mr

Attorney General thank you very much for your leadership and inviting me to join you here today and working with you on the task force you and I have served together in the United States Senate we serve together now in the Trump administration and today we stand together to address an issue which both of us strongly believe needs to be addressed using the authorities of our respective agencies for the past few months I have had the privilege of working with the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community I have seen and the work that they do tirelessly and without fanfare to protect our country I stand here today as their leader to express our grave concern that unauthorized disclosures of classified material and damaging our mission and jeopardizing the safety and security of the American public in the last several years the US intelligence community has experienced some of the worst compromises of classified information in our nation's history those disclosures had been disseminated to both the media and to our foreign adversaries let me be absolutely clear this morning these disclosures have resulted in a major threat to our national security they endanger the men and women of the intelligence community the Armed Services and those who serve overseas they give our adversaries knowledge of our activities they impede our ability to share information with our allies there is also a real cost in dollars to compensate for blown programs and most importantly as I have previously noted these unauthorized disclosures endanger the safety and security of Americans across the country I'd like to point out however that these national security breaches do not just originate in the intelligence community they come from a wide range of sources within the government including the executive branch and including the Congress now if someone who is accessed to classified material as legitimate concerns there are multiple ways for them to put forward a complaint the IC offers avenues for whistleblowers and protections for those individuals to report concerns without fear of reprisal and there are other legal options available outside of those channels including notifying the congressional intelligence committees or even their own congressional representative or senator in Congress having said this it is important to stress that any disclosure of unauthorized channels if authorized excuse me any disclosure outside of authorized channels is a criminal offense and we will simply not tolerate the illegal release of classified information the National counterintelligence and Security Center which is part of my office is currently carrying out a review of the policies that are in place guiding IC agencies processes for investigating and reporting cases of authorized disclosures in addition the NCSC is studying security clearance procedures to look for any inconsistencies in the processes for issuing security clearances to all IC employees including government officials contractors detailees etc if inconsistencies are found NCSC will make recommendations to strengthen the security clearance process and this can be discussed and will be discussed after we finish our remarks we will also continue to ensure the federal work force is clear of the importance of the respecting classifications and is fully aware of whistleblower options and we will work with our counterparts in the executive branch and the Congress to address this issue let me conclude by saying that we are prepared to take all necessary steps to 1 identify individuals who illegal is illegally expose and disclose classified information secondly forward information about their deeds to the FBI for full investigation and we will work closely with the Department of Justice to support prosecution of any person who makes an unauthorized disclosure of classified material forth and finally is the Director of National Intelligence I am also empowered to take administrative action within the IC to deal with individuals who break the law and let me be clear I will not hesitate to exercise those authorities anyone who engages in these criminal acts is betraying the intelligence community and the American people we feel the pain of those betrayals intensely and I can assure you that I will do everything in my power as the Director of National Intelligence to hold these individuals accountable for those out there who may be listening or watching these announcements for who will later learn about what has been said here this morning understand this if you improperly disclose classified information we will find you we will investigate you we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and you will not be happy with the result you

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