from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 30
April 11, 2002


"I'm against leaks," said Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday, in case anyone wasn't sure.

Rumsfeld commented incisively on "leaks" of classified information and a variety of other information policy issues in an interview with journalist Marvin Kalb at the annual convention of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

"The laws relating to classified information are quite strict as to who may be given access to that information," Rumsfeld said. "And so to the extent that people violate the rules with respect to classified information, they are breaking federal criminal law."

"The other problem is what do you do about it," he continued.

"I do not have time -- nor does anyone I know have time to spend -- to engage in witch hunts inside the department, trying to find [leakers]," he said.

"Have you ever taken action against a Pentagon-leaker of information?" Kalb asked.

"Not that I can think of," Rumsfeld replied. "If you start taking people who get up, work hard, care about the country, dedicated, and you don't know who leaked, and then you start calling in all these innocent people, and pretty soon you are slapping a heavy case on them that -- 'You were only one of five people who knew this -- we don't know whether to believe you or not.' And you think of the loss of productivity and the loss of morale, and the difficulty in an organization. My impression is we will find enough people who do it by accident, without going around chilling your own organization and distracting them from their very important work. So I just don't do it," Rumsfeld said.

These comments have particular significance because of the ongoing official deliberations concerning the need for new legislation to combat unauthorized disclosures of classified information.

Rumsfeld's remarks suggest that current law is already sufficiently strong ("quite strict") to serve as a deterrent against leaks. His comments further indicate that there are institutional obstacles to pursuing leakers ("loss of productivity and loss of morale") that new statutory prohibitions would do nothing to address and might even exacerbate.

Secretary Rumsfeld also answered questions on official lying, the Office of Strategic Influence, and related topics. See the full text of his April 10 interview here:

A Justice Department report to Congress on the need for new legislation to criminalize leaks of classified information is due to be submitted by May 1.


The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the secretive intelligence agency that designs, builds and operates the nation's spy satellites, last year began publishing a new unclassified newsletter.

The new "CSNR Bulletin" is published by the Center for the Study of National Reconnaissance (CSNR), a component of the NRO Office of Policy.

"As its mission, CSNR studies the discipline of national reconnaissance, as well as policy issues associated with openness and declassification issues," according to the Bulletin masthead.

"The main purpose of the CSNR Bulletin is to share information about national reconnaissance with current employees of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), NRO alumni, and other Intelligence Community and public constituents who are stakeholders in the field," writes the Bulletin's Editor Robert A. McDonald.

The first issue of the CSNR Bulletin (Winter-Spring 2001) contains reflections from the NRO Director and the NRO Historian on the NRO's 40th anniversary, as well as reports on the recent NRO Commission, and a summary of NRO declassification activities, among other items.

It is posted here (in a 3.2 MB PDF file):

The second issue of the CSNR Bulletin is now under review, an NRO spokeswoman said, and will probably be released some time next month.


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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