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James Clapper, top U.S. intelligence official, tightens security rules to avert leaks to media

AP file

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, center, emerges from a closed-door meeting with the House and Senate Intelligence Committees aimed at stopping security leaks on June 7, 2012, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday mandated new measures, including lie-detector tests, to prevent and detect unauthorized leaks of sensitive national security information to reporters.

The move is an attempt by Clapper to take the Central Intelligence Agency's strict policy regarding leaks of classified information and apply it to employees of the Intelligence Community.

The Intelligence Community is a coalition of 17 agencies and organizations within the executive branch, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of Energy, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Office and the National Security Agency.


Clapper's move comes in the wake of news reports derived from leaked information about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and an alleged al-Qaida plot to bomb a U.S.-bound flight.

From now on, the polygraph test for anyone seeking a classified clearance for any intelligence service will include a specific question regarding contact with journalists and unauthorized leaks to the media.

In the event of a leak, anyone in the Intelligence Community who would have had access to the leaked information is subject to a polygraph test regarding that specific leak.

Anyone who fails could have their security clearance revoked and could be subject to a criminal investigation.

Anyone who refuses the polygraph would immediately have their security clearance revoked and could be subject to additional administrative action and a criminal investigation.

Also under consider are provisions that would require anyone with a security clearance within the Intelligence Community to report any substantive contact with members of the media or any arranged meeting or any encounter where business was discussed.

These new rules do not apply to U.S. military with security clearances not assigned to an intelligence agency, or to White House officials or members of Congress.

Clapper said the inspector general of the Intelligence Community will conduct independent investigations to ensure that unauthorized disclosure cases suitable for administrative investigations are not closed prematurely.

"These efforts will reinforce our professional values by sending a strong message that intelligence personnel always have, and always will, hold ourselves to the highest standard of professionalism," said Clapper. "It is my sincere hope that others across the government will follow our lead. It is the right thing to do on behalf of the American people and in the interest of our national security."

Senior U.S. officials tell NBC News that in the end, these new guideline may have little practical effect, since most of the leaks traditionally come from reporters’ sources who do not work directly for the intelligence community.

Two U.S. attorneys have been appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to lead a Justice Department inquiry of the recent leaks.

Republicans have suggested the leaks were orchestrated to boost President Barack Obama's re-election bid.


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