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US launches drive to plug leaks -Washington Post

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Mar 5 (Reuters) The Bush administration has launched several investigations to discourage Government employees from leaking classified information to news reporters, The Washington Post reported in its today's edition.

FBI agents have interviewed dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies in recent weeks as they investigate possible leaks that led to reports about the NSA's domestic spying program and secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe, the Post said.

Employees at the FBI, the CIA, the Justice Department and other agencies have also received Justice Department letters prohibiting them from discussing the NSA program, the Post said, citing anonymous sources.

Republican lawmakers like Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts are considering legislation that would stiffen penalties for leaking.

FBI agents have contacted reporters at the Sacramento Bee about their coverage of a terrorism case that was based on classified documents, the Post said.

CIA Director Porter Goss has warned employees at the agency against speaking to reporters, and called for prosecutors to call reporters before a grand jury to force them to reveal who is leaking information, the Post said.

Several reporters have already been forced to reveal anonymous sources to a US prosecutor investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity after her husband accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence to justify its invasion of Iraq.

Editors and lawyers told the Post the incidents amount to the most extensive anti-leak campaign since the Nixon administration.

A White House spokesman told the Post that the Government needs to protect classified information as it fights terrorism.

Reuters PG VP0945

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