By Duncan Smith

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe just issued a long-overdue warning to the anti-American media: Stop publishing classified information because it’s a crime.

The statement, issued Tuesday, comes in response to a report in The New York Times last week claiming that a Russian military unit was attempting to pay bounties to Taliban fighters for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon, the Intelligence Community, and the White House have all strenuously denied the crux of the Times report.

And sure, we expect that.

But given the Times’ well-established track record of publishing fake news about the Trump administration, you can never tell if the paper gets anything right.

However, this time around must have struck a nerve somewhere along the line, hence Ratcliffe’s warning.

'U.S. and coalition force protection is a critical priority for both the President and the intelligence community,' Ratcliffe wrote. 'The selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital intelligence work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats and places our forces at risk. It is also, simply put, a crime.'

'We are still investigating the alleged intelligence referenced in recent media reporting and we will brief the President and Congressional leaders at the appropriate time. This is the analytic process working the way it should,' the statement continued. 'Unfortunately, unauthorized disclosures now jeopardize our ability to ever find out the full story with respect to these allegations.'

As the Daily Caller reports:

The statement comes after Saturday reports claimed that a secretive Russian unit was offering bounties to terror groups in Afghanistan on U.S. and coalition forces, even as the U.S. negotiated a peace agreement with the Taliban.

The U.S. entered a tentative peace agreement with the Taliban in late February in which the U.S. would incrementally scale back troop deployment so long as the Taliban continued to reduce hostilities.

'This country is not in the best shape after 40 years; they've been suffering from conflict. If we ripped everybody out overnight it would, almost in a certain sense, threaten everything we've done,' one senior Trump administration official familiar with the deal said at the time.

The warning is a great thing and again, long overdue.

But it will be meaningless without charging someone or several someones for massively violating the Espionage Act.

And yes, that includes complicit media schmucks as well.

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