Opinion: Leaks within the federal government harm national security, need to be stopped

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein watches at right as Attorney General Jeff Sessions steps away from the podium during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, on leaks of classified material threatening national security. (AP Andrew Harnik)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Washington, D.C. is leaking like a busted pipe.

In the first six months of this year, the Department of Justice received nearly as many criminal referrals about leaks as it did in the past three years combined, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Of course, we have to remember that not all leaks are bad. Exposing wrongdoing in government, of course, is necessary for a functioning democracy.

But the leaks that have come out of this administration are not that. Let’s take the leaked transcripts of President Trump’s calls with the Mexican president and Australian prime minister as an example.

This was an unnecessary exposure of our president doing what we elected him to do - conducting international relations. This sort of leak is a disservice to the American people because it strips away our government’s ability to negotiate, conduct top secret business and do the work necessary to provide for its constituents.

President Trump has been vocal about his commitment to stop leaking. Some Democrats agree as well.

“It put a chilling effect on whether world leaders want to talk to the president and the president having candid discussions,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said in an interview with Sinclair Broadcast Group.

To combat this problem, Sessions has announced his commitment to putting an end to the “culture of leaking” plaguing this administration.

In an announcement that has drawn a lot of attention and criticism, the attorney general said last week that members of the media may be subpoenaed to reveal their sources. However, my understanding is that this would only occur in extreme cases where national security is at stake.

Additional measures to stop leaks include a new unit within the FBI. Sessions has also instructed attorneys across the country to prioritize cases dealing with wrongful leaks.

The bottom line is this, people are put in the White House and in other government positions with the expectation that they will serve our country, not their own interests by leaking information to the media.

Just because leaking happens a lot does not mean that leaks should be accepted as norm.

On the contrary, the Department of Justice and the federal government as a whole should take every appropriate measure to prevent sensitive information from becoming public.

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