The U.S. Justice Department is committed to cracking down on the leak of classified information from government officials to the press, U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr. said today at a Federal Bar Association luncheon in Washington.
Machen was the guest speaker at the luncheon, held in a private dining room at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse. Machen was joined by his principal assistant U.S. attorney, Vincent Cohen Jr., who joined the U.S. Attorney's Office from Schertler & Onorato, and special counsel Matt Jones, a former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr associate.
In his remarks, Machen noted the uptick in leak cases but didn’t comment on what’s driving the push to hold government officials and contractors responsible for communication with reporters. Machen said in a statement in August, when a former contractor was charged in a leak case, that prosecutors will continue “protecting our nation’s secrets and bringing to justice those who betray the confidence placed in them by the American people.”
Machen (at left) spent the bulk of his time outlining his priorities for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, including increased community outreach, filling vacant assistant U.S. attorney slots and bolstering white collar enforcement. Machen said he spends about half of his time on national security issues. He said he wants to hire 15-20 prosecutors in the next six months to overcome a delay in hiring.
Machen touted community outreach, saying his office needs the support of District residents in order to build successful cases. He noted that members of his office recently attended the screening of “Barry Farm: Past & Present” in the Barry Farm neighborhood in Southeast Washington. Some prosecutors, he said, only knew the community from crime scene photos.
With homicides down in the District, Machen said he wants his office to focus on cold case murders. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, he said, is designating an assistant U.S. attorney as a DNA specialist who will focus on forensic evidence disputes.