Message from the Director: Recent Media Leaks
November 8, 2010
We have seen in recent months a damaging spate of media leaks on a wide range of national security issues. WikiLeaks is but one egregious example. In some cases, CIA sources and methods have been compromised, harming our mission and endangering lives.
When information about our intelligence, our people, or our operations appears in the media, it does incredible damage to our nation’s security and our ability to do our job of protecting the nation. More importantly, it could jeopardize lives. For this reason, such leaks cannot be tolerated. The Office of Security is directed to fully investigate these matters. Unauthorized disclosures of classified information also will be referred to the Department of Justice. Our government is taking a hard line, as demonstrated by the prosecutions of a former National Security Agency official, a Federal Bureau of Investigation linguist, and a State Department contractor.
Here at the Agency, we are a family, which means we depend on each other—sharing burdens, challenges, and successes. But sharing cannot extend beyond the limits set by law and the “need to know” principle. The media, the public, even former colleagues, are not entitled to details of our work.
I would ask that every employee reflect on the responsibilities and privileges of service at CIA. Every officer takes a secrecy oath, which obligates us to protect classified information while we serve at the Agency and after we leave. A vast majority of officers live up to their oath, but even a small number of leaks can do great damage. Our adversaries benefit, while our credibility, our operations, and, ultimately, our ability to accomplish the mission all take a hit. Our sworn duty to the American people is to protect them and we must do nothing to violate the law or that sacred pledge.
Leon E. Panetta