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US law chief targets leakers after White House jibes

By Eric Tucker

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has pledged to rein in government leaks that he said undermine American security, taking an aggressive public stand after being called weak on the matter by US President Donald Trump.

America's top law enforcement official cited no current investigations where disclosures of information had jeopardised the country.

His announcement, made with other security officials at the US Justice Department, followed a series of news reports involving the Trump campaign and White House that have relied on classified information.

In prepared remarks, Mr Sessions said: "No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight their battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information."

He added that: "No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or to talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders."

Meanwhile, a White House adviser raised the possibility of lie detector tests for those with access to transcripts of Mr Trump's phone calls.

The Washington Post has published transcripts of his conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said "it's easier to figure out who's leaking than the leakers may realise".

When asked if lie detectors might be used in a bid to crack down on leaks, she said: "Well, they may, they may not."

Mr Trump's outbursts against media organisations he derides as "fake news" have led to predictions that his administration will more aggressively try to root out leaks.

Mr Trump complained on Twitter last week that Mr Sessions was weak in cracking down on leaks.

He said: "Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!"

However, Mr Sessions said in his remarks that his department had more than tripled the number of active leaks investigations compared with the number pending when President Barack Obama left office.

He said the department is reviewing guidelines related to subpoenas of journalists.

"This nation must end the culture of leaks. We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice," Mr Sessions said in his remarks.

"We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer."

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