Top State Department officials recently launched a crackdown on suspected leakers, with spokeswoman Heather Nauert leading the charge in grilling possible culprits.
The move was prompted by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s frustration over several news articles after he took over the department from Rex Tillerson.
Reports revealing a six-month role extension of Brett McGurk, a Special Presidential Envoy appointed by former President Barack Obama and allegations of the State Department “slow-rolling Palestinian funding,” were among the leaks that ticked Pompeo off the most.
A senior State Department official tells Axios that preventing sensitive information from getting out prematurely is crucial.
“Leaks of internal deliberations on matters involving this most sensitive region have a debilitating effect on our prosecution of foreign policy,” the official said.
“Most diplomats working on these issues support any effort to ensure our messages are appropriately controlled and coordinated through official channels.”
Not everyone is in pleased with the methods being used to hunt down suspected leakers.
“They’ve gotten diplomatic security involved in the leak investigation — the internal security of the State Department — which is bananas,” another source lamented to Axios.
“These are the people who stand outside diplomats’ doors when they sleep overseas.”
Reports of the crackdown follow the Justice Department’s announcement Thursday that a Senate Intelligence Committee veteran was indicted for making false statements to the FBI. The Committee staffer, James Wolfe, is accused of lying about sharing classified information with members of the media.
Wolfe is said to have transmitted “non-public information,” to three separate journalists — including then-BuzzFeed (now New York Times) reporter Ali Watkins, whose phone records were seized by the Justice Department — using encrypted messaging apps.