Trump’s leaks crackdown sends chills through national security world

 

 

WHITE HOUSE

Trump’s leaks crackdown sends chills through national security world

Agency officials say measures have been taken to isolate leakers, creating a culture of fear.

President Donald Trump is pictured.
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has regularly vented about his intense frustration with anonymously sourced stories. | AP Photo

National security officials across the federal government say they are seeing new restrictions on who can access sensitive information, fueling fears in the intelligence and security community that the Trump administration has stepped up a stealthy operation to smoke out leakers.

Officials at various national security agencies also say they are becoming more concerned that the administration is carefully tracking what they’re doing and who they’re talking to — then plotting to use them as a scapegoat or accuse them of leaks.

One U.S. official voiced concern over even talking to superiors about a benign call from a reporter. The agency this official works for had started limiting staff access to information, they said, and it would make it far easier to figure out who was talking to people in the media.

There was suspicion, the official said, that the agency was even tracking what they printed, to keep tabs on what information they were accessing.

“I’m just trying to keep my head down,” another U.S. intelligence official recently told POLITICO.

A half dozen officials across the national security community described to POLITICO a series of subtle and no-so-subtle changes that have led to an increasingly tense and paranoid working environment rooted in the White House’s obsession with leaks.

President Donald Trump has regularly vented about his intense frustration with anonymously sourced stories, and has specifically targeted federal government entities, including intelligence agencies like the CIA and FBI, and the State Department.