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White House: Prosecution Not Always The Best Way To Address Leaks

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AP
AP

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama, who has overseen a record number of leak prosecutions during his time in office, has directed his team to look into alternative ways to crack down on leaks without bringing criminal charges, a White House spokesman told The Huffington Post Friday.

After the Justice Department issued a new report on Friday laying out guidelines for investigating leaks to the media, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich said the administration believes that pursuing a criminal investigation and prosecution is “not always the most efficient and effective way to address leaks of classified information. He suggested withdrawing security clearances and imposing other administrative sanctions could suffice in certain cases.

“The President agrees with the Justice Department’s recommendation and has directed his team to explore how the Administration could more effectively use alternatives in appropriate cases,” Lehrich told HuffPost.

DOJ’s report is available here. The full statement from Lehrich:

“The President appreciates the Justice Department’s work to revise their guidelines, and he believes this report is an important step towards finding the balance between dealing with dangerous leaks of classified national security information and protecting the rights of journalists to freely gather and report the news. He also continues to believe that Congress should quickly pass media shield legislation and looks forward to working with them to do so.

“Additionally, as the Justice Department states in its report, pursuing a criminal investigation and prosecution is not always the most efficient and effective way to address leaks of classified information. There are circumstances in which leaks are better addressed through administrative means, such as withdrawal of security clearances or imposition of other sanctions. The President agrees with the Justice Department’s recommendation and has directed his team to explore how the Administration could more effectively use alternatives in appropriate cases.”

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