Clapper: Leaks Are ‘Corrosive,’ ‘Damage Relationships With Crucial Partners’

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called leaks "damaging" and "corrosive" Sunday on "Meet the Press," saying the issue is particularly serious now due to U.S. reliance on foreign intelligence partners.

Earlier on the program, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly slammed the series of leaks coming out of the Trump administration, particularly the intelligence leaks from the investigation into last week's Manchester concert terror attack.

Kelly told host Chuck Todd it was almost treasonous, leading Todd to ask Clapper if he agreed.

"I have to say that leaks are damaging," Clapper said. "They're corrosive. They risk compromising sources, methods and tradecraft. As we've seen recently, they damage relationships with crucial partners. UK and Israel come to mind. This is particularly serious now because, in my experience–50-plus years in intelligence—I don't know of a time when we've depended more on friends and allies for sharing information and intelligence, particularly with respect to terrorism."

"I know Secretary Kelly takes this quite seriously, and he should," he added. "Legal definition of what's treason? I'll leave that to the lawyers, but just from a practitioner's standpoint in the intelligence business, leaks are bad."

United Kingdom officials were angered over the leaks from the Manchester probe, temporarily suspending intelligence-sharing over the incident. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson apologized and President Trump announced that the responsible party would be punished.