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Rumsfeld Briefs Pentagon on Detriment of Leaks - 2002-07-16

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is calling for a crackdown on leaks of classified material that he says are endangering American lives. In an internal memo to senior Pentagon officials, Mr. Rumsfeld says the unauthorized disclosure of classified information is not only jeopardizing American lives but also damaging the country's ability to stop terrorist acts.

The memo, released to reporters by the Pentagon, calls on senior defense officials to meet with their staffs to discuss the seriousness of the problem.

It cites no specific examples of allegedly damaging leaks. But attached to the memo is a unclassified assessment of the impact of leaks on the war against terrorism prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The CIA document says information from captured al-Qaida detainees has revealed the terrorist group's supporters are "extremely security conscious and have altered their practices in response to what they have learned from the press about our capabilities."

The CIA memo also asserts leaks of classified information have reduced the willingness of potential allies, volunteers and sources in foreign countries to work with the United States out of fear of having their cooperation publicized in the news media.

The release of the Rumsfeld and CIA memos follows the publication of a detailed New York Times report outlining military plans for a U.S. war against Iraq.

In a televised interview on Monday, Mr. Rumsfeld insisted the article was based on a low-level planning document that neither he nor the President have seen and which has no official standing.

But he said he would "dearly like to find" the person or persons who leaked the document, saying they ought to be imprisoned. He called on anyone with information about the incident to come forward with names.