United States Department of Defense
Secretary Rumsfeld at Fort Hood Town Hall Meeting[Excerpt on Leaks]
August 21, 2002
Q: (Off mike.) Sir, my question has to do with the media. I know, as a person who's prepared to go to war, I worry about press leaks. When we have some war plans and they're coming from you and from the boss, I hate to think that our health, our security is jeopardized based on media trying to get the story out first.
(Cheers of "hoo-ah!") (Applause.)
Rumsfeld: Well, um -- (laughter) -- the unprofessionalism today is as bad as I have ever seen it in terms of the handling of classified information. (Applause.) It is serious. It is dangerous. And it is beyond my comprehension how a person who has been cleared for the handling of classified information can be so irresponsible and callous to the lives that can be lost, and still provide that information to people who are not cleared for handling it.
It's easy for us to blame the press. The truth is that there's -- they didn't get the information from nowhere. It didn't come out of mid-air. They got it from somebody who was cleared for the handling of classified information who, for whatever reason -- self-aggrandizement; wanting to be seen as knowing a lot; wanting to ingratiate themselves with the press -- are willing to put people's lives at risk. It is inexcusable. You wish that those people had their youngsters in the front lines, and maybe they'd be more sensitive about doing that kind of thing.
(Cheers of "hoo-ah!") (Applause.) I'm told by my general counsel that I'm not supposed to say that I wish they were all in jail -- (laughter) -- because it would be pre- judging something. But the truth is, I wish they were all in jail. (Hoo-ah cheer.) (Applause.)