Friday, August 4th, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke to the nation regarding the role of the Justice Department in stopping the rampant leaks of classified intelligence information. While I normally do not reference videos in this site, before commenting for contextual purposes for my thoughts after you watch this press conference, I thought it important for you to listen to what AG Sessions has to say:
I’m not certain — even after watching and listening to Sessions — that his Justice Department is really geared up to take enough criminal legal action to stop this leaking. I’m not a leaker nor a criminal, therefore I may not be a good arbiter of what actions in these matters would be “good,” but I am an adult that once was a child. My Mom showed me at a very young age that accountability was far more than what actions my Dad would take when he told us kids when we got rowdy in the back seat of a car on a trip: “Don’t make me come back there!” Needless to say, Dad never came back there and we knew he wouldn’t. On the other hand, when Mom said “Don’t you go outside and get in that mud, or else,” and I did so, you can be bet the “or else” was instigated against me every time.
“If” I was AG Sessions, I would have said all that he said, but I would have messaged exactly what the accountability for the leaks would be for the apparent hundreds of Leakers at the White House and within the Intelligence agencies. Instead of simply saying “There’s a huge price to pay for leaking,” wouldn’t it have been more effective to lay out the existing criminal sentencing parameters from the law and explain how that will be meted out? Remember this: right now there is virtually NO examples of prices paid by leakers for leaking classified intelligence information. If I was Sessions, I would have said something like this: “For all those who are found either leaking or being associated with the eventual leak of any classified information, under Federal felony statute, the Justice Department will take immediate criminal action against those persons for felony violation(s) of federal laws. The penalties for such actions with conviction will result in implementation of the applicable section of the following law:
18 U.S. Code § 798 – Disclosure of classified information
(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—
(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or
(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or
(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or
(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
(b) As used in subsection (a) of this section—
The term “classified information” means information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;
The terms “code,” “cipher,” and “cryptographic system” include in their meanings, in addition to their usual meanings, any method of secret writing and any mechanical or electrical device or method used for the purpose of disguising or concealing the contents, significance, or meanings of communications;
The term “foreign government” includes in its meaning any person or persons acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of any faction, party, department, agency, bureau, or military force of or within a foreign country, or for or on behalf of any government or any person or persons purporting to act as a government within a foreign country, whether or not such government is recognized by the United States;
The term “communication intelligence” means all procedures and methods used in the interception of communications and the obtaining of information from such communications by other than the intended recipients;
The term “unauthorized person” means any person who, or agency which, is not authorized to receive information of the categories set forth in subsection (a) of this section, by the President, or by the head of a department or agency of the United States Government which is expressly designated by the President to engage in communication intelligence activities for the United States.
(c) Nothing in this section shall prohibit the furnishing, upon lawful demand, of information to any regularly constituted committee of the Senate or House of Representatives of the United States of America, or joint committee thereof.
(d) (1) Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall forfeit to the United States irrespective of any provision of State law—
(A) any property constituting, or derived from, any proceeds the person obtained, directly or indirectly, as the result of such violation; and
(B) any of the person’s property used, or intended to be used, in any manner or part, to commit, or to facilitate the commission of, such violation.
(2) The court, in imposing sentence on a defendant for a conviction of a violation of this section, shall order that the defendant forfeit to the United States all property described in paragraph (1).
(3) Except as provided in paragraph (4), the provisions of subsections (b), (c), and (e) through (p) of section 413 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 853(b), (c), and (e)–(p)), shall apply to—
(A) property subject to forfeiture under this subsection;
(B) any seizure or disposition of such property; and
(C) any administrative or judicial proceeding in relation to such property,if not inconsistent with this subsection
“Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.” If I were a leaker (or contemplating to become one), and I KNEW that my actions in leaking would certainly turn into a sentence of ten years and the stiff fines referenced in section (a)4 for EACH of the leaks I perpetrated, it would change my thought process significantly. Further, if the Justice Department would immediately upon the arrest of any such offender release the identities and charges filed against these alleged perpetrators and feed to the Media routine follow-up information about the details of their prosecution going forward and ultimate dispositions, (including of those 4 AG Sessions referenced in Friday’s press conference that have already been arrested) I am pretty certain going forward the job of having to ferret out leakers would become significantly easier because the accountability threats would have begun to be publicly carried out.
Currently there is no fear of real prosecution. I knew my Dad was never going to stop the car and literally “come back there” to chastise my brother or me. But I also knew when Mom warned me to not get in the mud, or “else,” there really was an “else” and I was going to not only find out what “else” there was, I was going to experience it — every time.