The FBI last year established a new unit to counter “media leak threats,” according to internal documents obtained by TYT under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The documents, which had been marked “SECRET” before being partially declassified in response to TYT’s FOIA request, allege a “rapid” rise in media leaks.
“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.
The document date stamps appear to conflict with the earlier claim by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in August 2017 that the FBI had already created a new counterintelligence unit to manage leak investigations.
Shortly after assuming office in February 2017, Sessions commenced a review of the Justice Department's leak investigations, concluding that there were too few investigations.
In November 2017, Sessions said that the Justice Department had increased its leak probes by 800%.
Media leak investigations spiked under the Obama administration, which controversially charged leakers under the World War I-era Espionage Act. Under Obama, the Justice Department prosecuted more than twice as many leakers under the Espionage Act as all previous administrations combined.
You can view the documents obtained through TYT’s FOIA request here.