Remarks of Defense Secretary William S. Cohenspeaking at the
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 2, 2000
Q Mr. Secretary, thank you. In your experience at the Pentagon, what has surprised you the most? What has disappointed you the most? And what would you count as your most important lesson learned?
SEC. COHEN: What is most surprising to me is the amount of highly classified information that I read on the front pages of the local papers. (Laughter.) And that is no laughing matter. I find not only highly classified material; I find internal memos that have just been typed that go to the media before they even come to me. I think it's something that should be of concern.
I've discussed this with some members of the -- formerly of the press, who said that they found it rare, in their experience some years ago, not that long in the past, where they would ever not only see something marked "Top Secret" or above, but actually be handed the document, saying, "Take it home so you can write your article for tomorrow's press from your home computer." I mean, I think it's really quite discouraging when you see that kind of information being released and openly given to members of the media. So that's surprised me, the level of that.