Briefer: Nicholas Burns - 01 April 1997 ...

Q: Is there any comment on the report in the Washington Times that Moscow is building bunkers against nuclear attack, and could this be connected to the expansion of NATO?

BURNS: I was gone for eight days, and I thought maybe I'd come back and things would be different, but they're not different. I find that Mr. Gertz spends most of his time collecting alleged intelligence reports and then regurgitating them on the pages of his newspaper. Most journalists in this city, including I think everybody in this room, do their job in a very different way. You go out and do your own research. You talk to people. You go out and you work hard, and you sweat to get your stories.

Clearly, there must be another way of reporting on the U.S.-Russian relationship than leaking alleged intelligence documents. So I don't think I'll give it the time of day, frankly, except just to sound off again against the modus operandi of Mr. Gertz.

Q: No credibility to the --

Q: (Inaudible)

BURNS: No, I'm very serious. I'm always serious, Sid.

Q: (Inaudible) you guys are leaking it to him.

BURNS: Excuse me!

Q: Not you, but somebody --

BURNS: I don't know anybody in this building who's leaking highly classified intelligence documents. Obviously, somebody in the U.S. Government is, and those people ought to be found and frankly prosecuted. It is a crime to leak to people not cleared highly classified intelligence documents. It's against the ethical oath, the oath that we all take as officers, and it's against the ethics that people have serving in government. I think it's a very serious issues.

If you ask, do I admire reporters who spend almost all their time secreting these documents out of the U.S. Government and putting them in the pages of the newspaper, no, I don't. I don't admire it, and I don't applaud it.

Q: (Inaudible)

BURNS: I'm sorry, I'm just back. I'm going to tell it like it is, like my boss.

Q: (Inaudible) he talked to a former CIA employee, and his name is also printed.

BURNS: I don't believe that former employees of the CIA ought to be talking about intelligence activities. I don't believe that's ethical.

Q: He even has a book coming out.

BURNS: I'm sorry, I don't believe it's ethical. I'm not going to read it. The State Department library won't purchase it.

(end transcript)