Can Sessions Turn Off the Faucet?

Attorney General tries to prove he’s not “very weak” on leaks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump  prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7.
Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON        (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets US President Donald Trump prior to the start of the first working session of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, northern Germany, on July 7. Leaders of the world's top economies will gather from July 7 to 8, 2017 in Germany for likely the stormiest G20 summit in years, with disagreements ranging from wars to climate change and global trade. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / IAN LANGSDON (Photo credit should read IAN LANGSDON/AFP/Getty Images)

On the heels of the Washington Post’s release of leaked transcripts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference last week announcing the Justice Department’s intent to aggressively pursue criminal charges against leakers plaguing the Donald Trump administration. The press conference appeared designed to please the president, who had previously called his attorney general “very weak” on the issue.

On this week’s first episode of The E.R., FP’s executive editor for news Sharon Weinberger is joined by Brad Moss, Trevor Timm, and FP’s Jenna McLaughlin to debate the flood of recent leaks and the administration’s response. The president says leaks “pose a grave threat to our national security,” a claim often made in high-profile leak investigations dating back to the release of the Pentagon Papers. But how often do such leaks pose a legitimate threat to American security? And when, if ever, is the leaking of classified information defensible?

Bradley P. Moss is an attorney specializing in litigation on matters relating to national security, federal employment and security clearance law, and the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act. He is also deputy executive director of the James Madison Project. Follow him on Twitter: @BradMossEsq.

On the heels of the Washington Post’s release of leaked transcripts of the president’s calls with foreign leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions held a press conference last week announcing the Justice Department’s intent to aggressively pursue criminal charges against leakers plaguing the Donald Trump administration. The press conference appeared designed to please the president, who had previously called his attorney general “very weak” on the issue.

On this week’s first episode of The E.R., FP’s executive editor for news Sharon Weinberger is joined by Brad Moss, Trevor Timm, and FP’s Jenna McLaughlin to debate the flood of recent leaks and the administration’s response. The president says leaks “pose a grave threat to our national security,” a claim often made in high-profile leak investigations dating back to the release of the Pentagon Papers. But how often do such leaks pose a legitimate threat to American security? And when, if ever, is the leaking of classified information defensible?

Bradley P. Moss is an attorney specializing in litigation on matters relating to national security, federal employment and security clearance law, and the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Act. He is also deputy executive director of the James Madison Project. Follow him on Twitter: @BradMossEsq.

Trevor Timm is a co-founder and the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is a journalist, activist, and lawyer who writes a weekly column for The Guardian on privacy, free speech, and national security. Follow him on Twitter: @trevortimm.

Jenna McLaughlin is FP’s intelligence reporter, focusing on the culture, dynamics, and events happening in the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the other 15 members of the intelligence community. Follow her on Twitter: @JennaMC_Laugh.

Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the WorldFollow her on Twitter: @weinbergersa.

Tune in, now three times a week, to FP’s The E.R.

Subscribe to The E.R. and Global Thinkers podcasts on iTunes

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