Some intel officials paranoid about White House anti-leak efforts
An article in Politico details the fear running through the intelligence community about the Trump administration's hunt for leakers who have regularly given reporters access to top-secret information. Or, in some cases, the "leakers" have simply made up stories from whole cloth, claiming special knowledge they don't possess.
Either way, the irony of law-breaking leakers giving out classified information illegally appears to be lost on the authors of the Politico piece.
National security officials across the federal government say they are seeing new restrictions on who can access sensitive information, fueling fears in the intelligence and security community that the Trump administration has stepped up a stealthy operation to smoke out leakers.
Officials at various national security agencies also say they are becoming more concerned that the administration is carefully tracking what they're doing and who they're talking to – then plotting to use them as a scapegoat or accuse them of leaks.
One U.S. official voiced concern over even talking to superiors about a benign call from a reporter. The agency this official works for had started limiting staff access to information, they said, and it would make it far easier to figure out who was talking to people in the media.
There was suspicion, the official said, that the agency was even tracking what they printed, to keep tabs on what information they were accessing.
"I'm just trying to keep my head down," another U.S. intelligence official recently told POLITICO.
A half dozen officials across the national security community described to POLITICO a series of subtle and no-so-subtle changes that have led to an increasingly tense and paranoid working environment rooted in the White House's obsession with leaks.
President Donald Trump has regularly vented about his intense frustration with anonymously sourced stories, and has specifically targeted federal government entities, including intelligence agencies like the CIA and FBI, and the State Department.
These are not "whistleblowers." Nothing they are leaking exposes wrongdoing by the government. They are intelligence officers sworn to keep secrets who are giving political ammunition to the opponents of Donald Trump. Just what is it they expect the president to do? Sit back and allow his administration to be torn apart by partisan intelligence operatives?
The only people who should be paranoid are the leakers. And if those intel officers don't see the need to compartmentalize information to root out lawbreakers, then my guess is that they are part of the problem.
Because that's the bottom line. What the leakers are doing in exposing damaging information to the president also exposes intelligence-gathering methods, aiding our enemies and augmenting their ability to spy on us.
Every administration since World War II has complained about and worried about intelligence leaks. Nixon's obsession with leaks brought down his presidency. Obama put reporters on trial for publishing leaked information. That Trump would seek to expose the leakers is absolutely no surprise. That intelligence officers would become paranoid about the hunt for leakers is.