The Obama Administration was never a fan of leakers and whistleblowers. The Trump Administration isn't either. And it's continuing to ramp up investigations in response to a steady stream of leaks that tend to arrive moments after executive proclamations in order to undermine or contradict whatever has just been proclaimed.
Fired company man Jeff Sessions thought the best plan to tackle leaks was prosecuting the recipients: journalists. Not really the best plan of action in a country with enshrined speech rights, but that's the way things are being done in the nation's capital. True to form, the DOJ has gone after leakers with a vengeance, threatening to rewrite all of Obama's personal prosecution records.
The FBI is getting in on the action, according to a document obtained by Ken Klippenstein of The Young Turks. The word "espionage" is tossed around, but most of what the Trump Administration has dealt with has been embarrassing, rather than a concerted effort to hand secret documents over to our country's enemies. Nonetheless, hunting leakers is official FBI business.
"By law, the FBI is the lead federal agency responsible for the investigation of violations of the espionage laws of the United States,” one document, bearing the subheader “Functions and Mission Statement” reads.
“The complicated nature of — and rapid growth in — unauthorized disclosure and media leak threats and investigations has necessitated the establishment of a new Unit,” the document continues.
The file, dated November 10, 2017, is heavily redacted — as are the rest of the records provided to TYT. One document, dated May 24, 2018, shows that the Bureau’s Resource Analysis Unit approved a request by its Counterintelligence Division to establish a new cost code, apparently for the new leaks unit.
As Klippenstein notes, the obtained document [PDF] indicates Jeff Sessions was a man of words, rather than a man of action. The establishment of the unit -- meaning the point at which it started being funded -- didn't occur until May 2018. Sessions claimed in August 2017 the FBI already had a leak-fighting unit in place and that leak probes had already increased by 800%.
Sessions' leak-targeting premature ejaculation may have been meant to scare government employees into keeping the feds' secrets. If so, it wasn't too effective. The rate of leaks has slowed from "daily," but there's no shortage of insiders willing to spill dirt on the chaotic White House to journalists.
The government isn't opposed to leaks, per se. It just likes to ensure the narrative it wants to project makes its way to the public before the truth even gets its pants on. That hasn't worked for years, as the Obama Administration discovered prior to its war on leakers and whistleblowers. It's not going to work here either, but it does raise the odds the First Amendment is going to suffer for the sins our government fails to keep covered up.