Leak-o-rama: IG says lots of FBI employees were talking to reporters -- and some even received benefits

By “benefits” I mean food, drink, and tickets to events. Minor bribes. Not … you know.

But stay tuned. There are more IG reports to come. You never know what those crazy kids at the FBI might be getting up to in off-hours. (Actually, we have some idea.)

A footnote to the passage below observes that just four, count ’em four, FBI employees are authorized to speak to the media without permission. The number who actually do, though, is … larger. It ain’t just the White House that leaks like a sieve, it seems. In fact, in this case, there’s palm-greasing of sorts happening to gain information.

Treating a source to coffee or a drink is routine among reporters, I’m sure, a de minimis infraction in terms of compensating people for talking to you. As you scale up from there, the infraction grows steadily more serious on both ends. For FBI personnel, they’re selling government property — information — for personal gain. For the media, they’re providing a financial incentive to sources to tell them what they want to hear, at least in their initial contacts. (Presumably a source caught passing bad info wouldn’t be used again, but God only knows.)

Here’s something from Attachment G, mentioned in the excerpt. Some reporters really get around!

I understand why they held back the names of FBI personnel here. Leak investigations are ongoing; criminal charges might conceivably attach to some or all. You wouldn’t want to accuse anyone formally before you’re sure you have the goods, especially if you’re tracking their contacts surreptitiously as part of the investigation. Spook them by naming them here and they’ll start destroying evidence.

But why not name the reporters, who aren’t in criminal jeopardy? I can only assume it’s because the feds are keeping tabs on some of them too and don’t want to tip them off they’re under the microscope until formal accusations/charges are ready. I hope and expect we’ll get to find out eventually, though. It’d be in the Department’s interest to reveal the names: Some reporters are no doubt better than others in cultivating sources, such that the only way to stop them from talking to FBI employees is to let the Bureau know in a public way that the DOJ knows who that reporter is talking to. As it is, today’s report should have quite the proverbial “chilling effect” even without naming names.