The United States government has faced criticism for its aggressive war against classified information leaks from within its normally well-secured walls. But there was a tipping point, just after Obama took office, when the administration decided something must be done about leaks.
The New York Times' Sharon LaFranierre did a thorough report on the origins of the administration's crackdown on national security leakers. The answer lies somewhere in a combination of new faces running national security and a series of embarrassing leaks that happened immediately after the Obama administration was installed. It was a perfect storm that led to this war on leaks we've heard so much about.
Under Obama's former director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, the war against leaks started just after the new President took office. It became very clear, very early that they had a leaking problem on their hands.
According to Mr. Blair, the effort got under way after Fox News reported in June 2009 that American intelligence had gleaned word from within North Korea of plans for an imminent nuclear test — a disclosure that eventually led to the indictment of Mr. Kim. The report infuriated the Central Intelligence Agency not only because it indicated that the United States was privy to the private discussions of North Korean leaders, but also because it was broadcast mere hours after a classified report with that information had been distributed to intelligence officials.
The immediate leaking of such important intel combined with the new faces running national security pushed an aggressive assault on leaks to the forefront. The way the government was looking at leaks had already started to change. During Blair's first few months in office, he ordered a review of the cases brought against government officials for leaking national security threats during George Bush's second term. There were 153 cases and no indictments. Some cases had suspects that were never charged. A fraction of the cases were turned into FBI investigations. "He was dismayed by what he found," the Times reports.