Republicans renew attacks on Obama administration over leaks

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 11, 2012 12:23pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after making remarks about the leaked Afghan war documents in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, July 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. President Barack Obama walks back to the Oval Office after making remarks about the leaked Afghan war documents in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, July 27, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans on Sunday renewed their attacks on the Obama administration over suspected leaks of classified security information, with one influential senator saying the Justice Department should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate.

Among the government secrets leaked to the media in recent months were reports on U.S. cyber warfare against Iran, procedures for targeting militants for drone attacks and the existence of a double agent who penetrated a militant group in Yemen.

Republicans have also criticized the administration for disclosing details of the Navy SEAL team that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a raid on his Pakistan hideout last year.

"Our intelligence people say this is the worst breach they've ever seen," Senator John McCain, senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"It's very clear that this information had to come from this administration. It couldn't have come from anywhere else," McCain said. "This needs a special counsel - someone who is highly independent of the Justice Department."

While government leaks are a staple of Washington political life, the issue has taken on a special significance ahead of the November 6 election, with some Republicans charging that the leaks appear calculated to boost the President Barack Obama's re-election prospects.

INDEPENDENCE QUESTIONED

Obama has reacted with indignation. "The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive," he said on Friday."

Asked about Obama's remarks, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said, "I take the president at face value" and that she did not believe information was leaked to help Obama.

"The investigation has to be non-partisan, it's got to be vigorous and it's got to move ahead rapidly," she told the CBS program "Face the Nation."

Attorney General Eric Holder announced late Friday that he had appointed two chief federal prosecutors to lead an investigation into the leaks.

The investigation would be headed by U.S. Attorneys Ronald Machen Jr. of Washington, D.C., and Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, who would be "fully authorized to prosecute criminal violations discovered as a result of their investigation," Holder said.

"Good start, maybe, but we need to find out if they'll have that independence," Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, told "Face the Nation."

He said his panel conducted a preliminary review of the "parade of leaks" that raised serious questions.

"Many asked the question, me included: 'Can you have the U.S. attorney, assigned through the attorney general, investigate something that is clearly going to be at the most senior levels of all of the executive branch?" said Rogers.

"Some of the leaks and the public leaks are self-described aides or people who were in the situation room - that's a pretty small but pretty important group of people," he said.

McCain ratcheted up the pressure by calling for a probe by a prosecutor with special powers, independent of the Justice Department.

"I have great respect for the two individuals that were appointed. But this - if it is, and it certainly is, the most egregious breach of intelligence in anybody's memory - that certainly requires a special counsel who is completely independent, someone with credibility ...," he told CNN.

Some special counsels, such as Patrick Fitzgerald who conducted an investigation into the leak of the identity of a covert CIA operative that led to the conviction of a senior aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney on obstruction and perjury charges, have been accused of conducting witch-hunts.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (15)
Wassup wrote:
Who will Obama blame this time for the “security leaks?” I don’t think Bush would work this time. Obama took personal kudos for the Navy Seals killing bin Laden. Now he says that the notion that the security breach came from his White House is “offensive,” I couldn’t agree with Obama more on this specific statement. The same word might be used for his lack of Presidential leadership in general. Notice the picture (top of article) of him re-entering the White House at a trot, similar to when he clashes with Congress and bi-partisan meetings and they won’t play the way he wants to. Vote for change in November. We have no Presidential or Congressional leadership presently. Let’s move forward and take our country back.

Jun 10, 2012 10:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
SchWI wrote:
Lets see, we have drone attacks in Yemen, computer viruses taking out Iran’s nuclear facilities, and pack of highly trained commando’s blowing into Pakistan killing a the worlds most wanted terrorist. Are these really leaks or maybe by process of elimination we could more or less determine that the US is the only country in the world that does things like on near constant basis for the last decade or so.

Jun 10, 2012 11:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
CDN_Rebel wrote:
It’s the 90s all over again; Republicans don’t think they can win so they throw everything (including a kitchen sink!) at Obama and see what sticks. In the end they got Clinton to lie under oath and he was impeached by Congress, though not ratified by the Senate — if Repubs take both houses Obama will be gone on some dubious charge eventually. A coup by any other name… much like the auto-filibustering of EVERY SINGLE piece of legislation passed by Dems. Disgraceful is the word that comes to mind.

Jun 11, 2012 3:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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