|For Immediate Release
July 12, 2012
Contact: Charlotte Sellmyer, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith
Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security Hearing on
“National Security Leaks and the Law”
Chairman Smith: Recent leaks of highly classified information pose a serious threat to our national security and put the lives of Americans and our allies at risk. National security experts from both Republican and Democratic administrations have expressed outrage over the leaks and the effect they have on ongoing and future intelligence operations.
What sets these leaks apart from other leaks we have seen is that the media reports that many of these have come from highly-placed Administration officials. If true, this means that Administration officials are weakening our national security and endangering American lives.
National security operational details exist to meet the covert needs of the intelligence community that protects the American people. As FBI Director Mueller recently testified: “….leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources. Makes it much more difficult to recruit sources and damages our relationships with our foreign partners. And consequently a leak like this is taken exceptionally seriously and we will investigate thoroughly.”
Director Mueller went on to say “I don't want to use the word devastating, but [this will] have a huge impact on our ability to do our business . . . your ability to recruit sources is severely hampered . . . So it also has some long-term effects, which is why it is so important to make certain that the persons who are responsible for the leak are brought to justice.”
News publications that publicize classified information claim to promote increased government transparency. But I wonder if their real motivation is self-promotion and increased circulation.
They claim to be in pursuit of uncovering government wrongdoing but dismiss any criticism that their actions may be wrong or damaging to the country.
These leaks have also resurrected debate on First Amendment protections afforded to media publications. What are the boundaries of free speech? How do we balance this freedom with the government’s need to protect certain information?
I hope the Justice Department will bring the full force of the law against those who leaked protected information. We can judge whether the Administration is willing to conduct a serious and objective investigation by considering two factors: (1) whether they will hold Administration officials responsible, and (2) whether the investigation is completed before the general election.
Otherwise, the American people rightly can conclude that the Administration is hiding the truth and has endangered American security and American lives.