The internal communications, which are still heavily redacted, say that there has been a “rapid” rise in leaks to the media from inside the government.
“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.
In 2017, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the FBI had created such a counterintelligence unit for media leaks. However, according to the documents, the unit wasn’t actually created until November 2017. At that point, Sessions said that the Justice Department had increased its leak probes by 800 percent, with 27 active probes.
“In the whole history of the country, there have only been about a dozen prosecutions for leaks,” Ben Wizner, an attorney with the ACLU who also represented Edward Snowden, told The Daily Beast in 2017. “So the 27 number, if it’s real, is staggering.”
TYT notes that investigations of leaks first spiked under the Obama administration, where they were charged under the Espionage Act. The most famous of these cases involved Chelsea Manning, who was charged with a variety of crimes for leaking government cables to WikiLeaks. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison and served seven before Obama commuted her sentence upon leaving office.