Intel Boss To Leakers: We Won't Let Up

DNI Clapper creates new task force to probe leakers when Justice Department opts against prosecution.

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Washington's top intelligence official is taking more efforts to cut down on unapproved disclosures of sensitive national security data as officials scramble to end a spate of leaks about America's secrets.

For the last month, national security leaders have been chasing a handful of news articles in major publications describing publicly for the first time several super-secret programs. The leaked data detailed a number of classified efforts, including President Obama's very own list of suspected terrorists to take out in drone strikes, and the role of U.S. security agencies in developing and setting loose computer viruses on Iran's alleged nuclear arms program.

James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, rolled out two new steps tailored to "better protect sensitive information, and help deter and detect potential leakers within the intelligence community," according to a DNI memorandum dated Monday.

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The two-pronged measures include the creation of a new task force that will have the power to continue investigations of accused leakers even after the U.S. Justice Department has opted against prosecuting them. The investigatory entity will be led by the intelligence community's general counsel.

"This will ensure that selected unauthorized disclosure cases suitable for administrative investigations are not closed prematurely," states the memo.

Clapper also has directed a new question be added to a lie-detector test administered to its personnel by several top agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NSA, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

"DNI Clapper's announcement shows some of the range of tools the administration has at its disposal to handle leaks of properly classified national security information," says Patrice McDermott, executive director at OpenTheGovernment.org.

Organizations like McDermott's are concerned senior lawmakers will follow through on a pledge to craft sweeping legislation that could make it easier for government officials to keep a lid on information that is embarrassing or proves illegality has occurred. Government watchdog groups worry strict legislation will make it easier for federal officials to keep information to which the public has a right under wraps.

John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at jbennett@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.

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