Amid ongoing leaks from the White House, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has issued a warning to those behind the disclosures and to the journalists who publish them.
Sessions said the administration had tripled the number of investigations into leaks of classified information, with four people already charged.
“It is important for the American people and those who might be thinking about leaking classified or sensitive information to know that criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information to endanger our national security are in fact being investigated and will be prosecuted,” he said.
In a move derided by critics as an attack on the free press, Sessions said the administration was reviewing policies on forcing journalists to reveal their sources.
It is, however, difficult to prosecute members of the news media in the United States for publishing leaked information.
In taking a stand, the top US law official was, no doubt, also trying to reassure President Donald Trump who had branded Sessions weak on tackling leaks.
The disclosures and ever-changing personnel in Trump’s administration have contributed to what critics say has been a chaotic start to his presidency.
In the latest major leak to the media, the Washington Post published transcripts on Thursday of contentious phone calls that Trump had in the early days of his administration with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
“No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders,” Sessions said of that case.