Leak, after leak, after leak of sensitive classified information from within our own U.S. government. And the leaks just keep coming.
In the short time President Trump has been in office, disloyal government employees have leaked highly sensitive information on numerous occasions. Let’s take a look at some of the leaks.
— First, it was “fake news” being presented to the then-incoming president by U.S. intelligence officials, which was then leaked to the media.
— Then the disclosure of telephone conversations between then National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn and the Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Having been taped by U.S. intelligence agencies, leaking it constituted a felony.
— We also saw the leak of President Trump’s telephone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
— And transcript excerpts of a call between the President and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto were also leaked.
— A leaked Department of Homeland Security memo written by DHS Secretary John Kelly concerning the possible use of National Guard troops to support immigration enforcement efforts.
— A leaked draft of an executive order that proposed to enable the C.I.A. to bring back overseas “black site” prisons for suspected terrorists.
And to top it off, after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Counsel Dan McGahn met with dozens of White House Staffers about leaks, their meeting and warnings were then leaked.
What makes all of this even more concerning is that we now know that members of the Trump transition team, and possibly even the President-Elect himself, were subject to “incidental surveillance” by the Obama administration. Further, both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are now investigating former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and whether she “unmasked” Trump campaign officials for political purposes.
Yes, we have always had leaks in our government and always will. In fact, President Abraham Lincoln’s first State of the Union Address was actually leaked to an anti-Lincoln newspaper. But we’ve never had leaks to this degree, frequency, and magnitude as has besieged President’s Trump’s administration in its first few months.
Unfortunately, a few disloyal U.S. government employees have been willing to leak classified information to inflict damage on the Trump administration because they have little fear they will be caught. They know that investigations into leaks by government employees are labor-intensive, time consuming, extremely costly, and frequently inconclusive. This is why administration after administration has endured highly damaging leaks and very few successful prosecutions.
Here’s what President Trump can do right now to greatly reduce the massive amount of leaks in the U.S. government and have a chilling effect on future would-be leakers:
* Offer Cash Rewards to Apprehend Government Leakers — The Trump administration should consider offering substantial cash rewards to loyal government employees for information leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of disloyal employees who violate the espionage laws of the United States by leaking sensitive classified information. The offer of cash rewards is one of law enforcement’s most efficient tools for identifying wrongdoers. Our government frequently offers cash rewards for information leading to the capture of terrorists. Federal, state, and local governments regularly offer cash rewards in serious criminal cases. The offer of a large enough cash reward would motivate non-leaking government employees to turn in their leaking colleagues. This more than anything will yield immediate investigatory results and, more importantly, will have a chilling impact on government employees inclined to participate in this kind of criminal behavior.
* Appoint the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board — Started by President Eisenhower, the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board is another tool at President Trump’s disposal that he hasn’t used. And it could help big time with reducing leaks in the government. Appoint a strong chairman and other members who understand intelligence, can’t be coopted by federal bureaucrats and who are “outside-the-box” thinkers who can come up with real needed reforms in the intelligence community. And make dealing with intelligence and national security leaks a top priority.
* Appoint Trump Loyalists Throughout the Government ASAP — President Reagan said it best, “Personnel is policy.” President Trump really doesn’t have all of his team in place at key departments and agencies. There are too many Obama holdovers in the government and we wonder where the leaks are coming from. There are many good, qualified, competent people out there who were early Trump supporters. Get them into the government fast and they’ll have President Trump’s back.
In conclusion, the massive leaks taking place in our government are an attempt to undermine the Trump presidency and they affect our national security. We will always have leaks, but much can be done to lessen the amount. The offer of cash rewards, appointing a strong President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and getting Trump loyalists in the government will greatly reduce the amount of leaks.
Van Hipp is chairman of American Defense International, Inc. (ADI), a Washington, D.C. consulting firm. He is former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, and served on the Presidential Electoral College in 1988. He is the author of “The New Terrorism: How to Fight It and Defeat It.” To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.