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Ex-CIA Director John Brennan: Media Intel Leaks ‘Very, Very Damaging’

CIA Director John Brennan addresses a meeting at the Council on Foreign Relations, in New York, Friday, March 13, 2015.
AP Photo/Richard Drew
AARON KLEIN

In statements largely unreported by the news media, former CIA Director John Brennan testified on Tuesday that, in his assessment, recent news media leaks concerning classified information are “very, very damaging” to U.S. national security.

Brennan further testified that the FBI would be the appropriate agency to investigate any unauthorized leaks coming from within the White House.

Brennan stated: “What I was very concerned about though is the subsequent releases of what appears to be classified information reporting to point to the originator of the information, liaison partners. These continue to be very, very damaging leaks and I find them appalling and they need to be tracked down. So that was where the damage came from; I think that it was released in the press.”

Brennan was referring to a New York Times report quoting a “current and a former American official” who claimed it was Israel that provided alleged classified intelligence purportedly disclosed by President Donald Trump to Russian officials during a recent meeting.

The Times was following up on a Washington Post exclusive that claimed the allegedly classified information was revealed by Trump during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador.  The Post report cited “current and former U.S. officials.”

Later in the hearing, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Fla), asked Brennan about news media leaks of classified information.

Rooney asked: “And I just want to ask you if you agree with Admiral Rogers that, when high-level intelligence community officials — I — I think some news reports had almost 20 people leaking classified information to the press — if you agree with Admiral Rogers that that kind of leaking with our — with our ability to have to reauthorize things like 702, so we can gather intelligence on bad guys for political purposes — if you agree that that kind of activity actually hurts our national security.”

Rooney was referring to testimony from National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers, who previously stated that he was very concerned about classified information leaks appearing in news media reports.

Brennan replied, “I think the unauthorized disclosure of classified information at all times hurts our national security, compromises our intelligence capabilities and needs to be investigated, needs to — to stop. Absolutely.”

During another exchange, Brennan told Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, that the FBI should be brought in to investigate any classified information leaks.

Castro asked, “If the White House has determined that leaks are coming from within their operation, could you tell us how they would go about determining that? How would they figure out that they have leakers in the White House?”

Brennan responded: “If there is a sense that there are unauthorized disclosures of classified information from within the White House, I think it’s imperative that the — the FBI be brought into the matter so that there can be an appropriate investigation to determine whether or not that conduct was criminal or not.”

Brennan’s remarks about news media leaks of classified information were underreported by the news media. One exception was a Washington Examiner article.

“Media mostly ignore Brennan’s remark about ‘appalling’ leaks,” was the title of the Examiner piece.

The article related:

The New York Times did not cover Brennan’s comments on leaks at all, but did run an article under the headline, “Ex-C.I.A. Chief Reveals Mounting Concern Over Trump Campaign and Russia.”

The Washington Post didn’t cover Brennan’s “leaks” remark either.

CNN’s website has no stories about it either, but the channel’s Twitter account did post a clip from the hearing that included Brennan’s comments about the danger of the leaks.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo mentioned the issue of leaks, but only to ask whether they were really harming national security.

 Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

With research by Joshua Klein.

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