A memo from national security adviser H.R. McMaster to agencies throughout the federal government about stemming leaks was leaked to the media and published in a report Wednesday evening.
The unclassified document, "For Official Use Only," was shared in full by Buzzfeed and discusses a request that departments hold a one-hour training session next week on "unauthorized disclosures."
"The unauthorized disclosure of classified information or controlled unclassified United States Government information causes harm to our Nation and shakes the confidence of the American people," the memo, dated Sept. 8, said. "In this era of unprecedented unauthorized disclosures, it is important to take time to review with your workforce their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding United States Government information.
Leaks have been a nagging issue impacting the Trump administration and its policy agency, prompting efforts to crack down.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced during a press conference in early August that the Justice Department was ramping up its efforts to investigate and prosecute government leakers, a day after transcripts of Trump's calls with two foreign leaders were leaked to the Washington Post. Sessions also said at the time that the department had already charged four people with unlawfully disclosing classified information.
McMaster notes the press conference as the impetus for the memo and said that it is "particularly important to stress the sharp difference between unauthorized disclosures of information and whistleblowing — the responsibility of all federal employees to report waste, fraud and abuse through proper channels."
For officials with access to classified information, McMaster wrote "a review of the non-disclosure agreement reminds us of the responsibilities that come with access to, and penalties for unauthorized disclosure of, classified information."
"However, it is equally important to discuss the importance of protecting controlled unclassified and personally identifiable information from unauthorized public disclosure," he added.
Of the "may resources" suggested in the memo for the training sessions are "a review of policies, guidance, videos, and training materials, and perhaps most important, an open discussion to answer questions and raise issues to ensure that our safeguarding measures are understood and effective."
Buzzfeed reported that suggested training materials included a C-SPAN video of the Sessions press conference and a six-minute Fox News clip of an interview of William Evanina, the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center.