Skip to main content

Panetta warns staff against leaks on Osama bin Laden raid

From Pam Benson, CNN
  • CIA director writes letter about information getting to media
  • Since bin Laden's death, leaks have been "unprecedented," he says
  • He says leaks violate the law and will be investigated

(CNN) -- CIA Director Leon Panetta, concerned by leaks about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, sent a letter to CIA employees on Wednesday warning them to protect classified information.

Since the al Qaeda leader was killed May 1 in a U.S. special operations forces raid on a compound in Pakistan, numerous details about the raid and materials confiscated at bin Laden's home have been leaked to the media.

In Panetta's letter, obtained by CNN, he says the operation, "has led to an unprecedented amount of very sensitive -- in fact, classified -- information making its way into the press."

"Disclosure of classified information to anyone not cleared for it -- reporters, friends, colleagues in the private sector or other agencies, former agency officers -- does tremendous damage to our work. At worst, leaks endanger lives," the letter said.

Panetta said leaking information violates the law and "seriously undermines our capability to do our job." Panetta said leaks will be investigated and turned over to the Justice Department for prosecution if warranted.

He closed the letter with congratulations: "We have every reason to be proud of the bin Laden operation. Let's live up to our secrecy oath in protecting it so that our agency can look forward to even greater accomplishments in the future."