Center for Strategic Communication

A selection from a 2006 Marine Corps request for a laser weapon. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service has asked Danger Room repeatedly to take down the unclassified document.

In its mounting campaign against leakers, the U.S. government isn’t just going after officials who revealed weighty secrets like the White House’s drone strike “kill list” or its plan to sabotage Iran’s nuclear sites. Federal agents are also chasing a leaker who gave Danger Room a document asking for a futuristic laser weapon that could set insurgents’ clothes on fire from nine miles away.

It’s an odd investigation, because the energy weapon doesn’t exist; the unclassified document describing it reads almost like a spoof of the laser system out of Real Genius; and this is 2012 — nearly five years after the leak in question.

But that hasn’t stopped the Naval Criminal Investigative Service from contacting Danger Room and its attorneys several times over six months regarding an investigation into the document (.pdf), which describes a “Precision Airborne Standoff Directed Energy Weapon” and is marked ”For Official Use Only,” or FOUO.

“This investigation is currently being conducted as a counterintelligence matter to determine if a loss/compromise of classified information occurred,” e-mailed Special Agent Christopher Capps, who works for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s field office in Washington, D.C.

Capps also asked Danger Room to divulge the source who provided the imaginary weapon document.

“Where did Ms. Weinberger get the information … that she posted to the website?” he wrote. “Did anyone inform her or give her direction that the document should not be put on the web?”

“As a separate question,” Capps continued, “would be willing to remove the document from the website?”

Danger Room, through its attorney, declined to provide the information, or to answer any questions related to the reporting of the story. The document has not been removed.