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Most leaks come from executive branch, CIA director says

By BRAD WRIGHT/CNN

July 22, 1999
Web posted at: 4:27 p.m. EDT (2027 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- CIA Director George Tenet said Thursday a flood of news leaks about sensitive matters are jeopardizing national security -- and 95 percent of the leaks are coming from the executive branch of government.

"The nature of the leaking that's going on in this town is unprecedented. It is compromising sources and methods. It is jeopardizing American security and there are people in our government who think they have some free pass to do this for their own pleasure," said Tenet, who was testifying before the House Intelligence Committee at its first public hearing about the bombing of the Chinese Embassy.

The CIA director -- who was responding to a comment by Rep. Tim Roemer, D-Ind., that there had been many stories in the press about intelligence failures related to the bombing -- then pointed a finger of blame. "I would say to all of my colleagues in the executive branch that 95 percent of what leaks comes out of the executive branch of government," he said. "Because some people believe they have some free right to disseminate this information."

Bill Harlow, the CIA's director of public affairs, said Tenet was not necessarily accusing the White House of leaking sensitive information, but was talking in a general sense about a continuing patter of leaks from other elements of the excutive branch, such as Cabinet departments.

Harlow added that Tenet has made similar statements about his concern over leaks, the last being on February 2, 1999.

However, the tone of concern over the purported leaks was unmistakable. Tenet pledged that those responsibile will be held accountable.

"I want to catch somebody more than anyone else in this government because (of) what it does to the effort of the men and women of our intelligence community and how it abuses the security of Americans," he said.

"Sooner or later we will catch somebody, and we'll fire them or prosecute them but what they're doing is devestating to the security of this country. It's shameful and we're doing everything we can to catch them."

Tenet said that the Secretary of Defense, The Secretary of State, the Attorney General and others have been working with him on security leaks.

"We have to get our house in order," he said. "This a very difficult problem that we have to solve."


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Thursday, July 22, 1999

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