Executive Order 12333, as amended, requires agencies in the Intelligence Community to report possible violations of Federal law by their employees to DOJ, which includes violations of the statutes relating to the unauthorized disclosure of classified information. These crime reports identify, among other things, the classified information that was leaked and the level of classification of the leaked information. DOJ’s National Security Division (NSD) then assesses whether an investigation should be opened as a result of the reported leak. As part of this assessment process, DOJ requires the reporting agency to answer a series of specific questions to help evaluate whether an investigation would be productive. Should an investigation be deemed necessary, these questions are useful in guiding the course of that investigation. For example, DOJ usually has the referring agency specify in its crime report whether it would like DOJ to investigate the leak. Although the FBI has the authority to investigate a leak regardless of whether the reporting agency desires such an investigation, eliciting the reporting agency’s determination of which leaks are sufficiently damaging to warrant an investigation helps us assess how best to use limited investigative resources.
In addition to responding to referrals, the FBI opens investigations whenever we become aware of a leak that we believe is significant, even without a referral. Similarly, we occasionally open an investigation based solely on an oral request from a senior Intelligence Community official. These investigations are conducted by the FBI in consultation with the NSD, which oversees and coordinates all leak investigations. The FBI and NSD regularly brief the reporting agencies on the status of these investigations.