President Obama and Intelligence Director Angered Over Media Leaks

Obama intelligence chief shares president's frustration over leaks.

Oct. 6, 2010 — -- Recently installed Director of National Intelligence James Clapper this morning expressed exasperation with the amount of leaking that goes on in Washington and revealed President Obama feels the same way about leaks of sensitive information.

"I was at a meeting yesterday with the president and I was ashamed to have to sit there and listen to the president express his great angst about the leaking that is going on here in this town," Clapper said at a conference on domestic intelligence issues hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Clapper, who was sworn into his position in August, slammed "widely quoted amorphous anonymous senior intelligence officials who get their jollies from blabbing to the media.

"I'm not criticizing the media," he said. "I know you're just doing your job. But I am criticizing the people who are who are allegedly government officials in responsible positions who have supposedly taken an oath to protect this country and, as the president remarked, the irony here is people engaged in intelligence turn around and talk about it publically."

Clapper said wide information sharing in the intelligence community that has become more common after 9/11 could be impacted by the massive disclosure of material in the Wikileaks controversy.

"I would observe that the Wikileaks episode, of course, represents what I would consider a big yellow flag," Clapper said. "I think it's going to have a very chilling effect on the need to share."

The issue of leaks came up later at the same conference when National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter was asked about a specific government analysis of terrorist radicalization. Leiter acknowledged there was extensive research and work done on the subject but, "that fact that this is not in the public realm is because it is supposed to be classified. To the extent that it does make it into the public realm, frankly, it makes my job, in most cases, much more difficult."

Following a panel discussion, Leiter was asked by journalists about the current threats out of Europe, but he said it is not helpful to discuss the issue beyond what the State Department travel alert noted.

Leak Investigations Stepped Up Under Obama

The Obama administration has been pursuing several major leak investigations, outpacing efforts during the Bush administration.

The Justice Department in April charged Thomas Drake, a former NSA employee, for disclosing classified information to a reporter, obstruction of justice and for making false statements.

The administration also has prosecuted Shamai Leibowitz, a former FBI translator who provided papers to a blogger, and the case of Bradley Manning, an Army specialist who allegedly transferred files to Wikileaks.

Although disclosing classified and highly sensitive information was at the heart of a Bush-era CIA leak investigation into who disclosed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame, the only individual charged in that case, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was charged only with lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury. Libby was not charged with disclosure of the information.