U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s appointment of federal prosecutors to investigate intelligence leaks on cyberattacks and drone strikes is a good start for a probe that must be kept nonpartisan, two key lawmakers said.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who leads the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Representative Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who heads a similarly named House panel, discussed the leaks and Holder’s decision yesterday during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”
Republicans have claimed that President Barack Obama’s administration provided information for news reports about an alleged U.S. cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear program, a thwarted bomb plot by al-Qaeda’s Yemen affiliate and the president’s personal role in approving a drone “kill list” to burnish his national-security credentials ahead of the November election. Obama has denied that White House officials leaked classified information, calling the notion they would do so “offensive.”
Rogers questioned whether the two prosecutors appointed by Holder could adequately investigate the “parade of leaks” when people involved may be in the executive branch, Defense Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Attorney General’s office.
“That’s a pretty small but pretty important group of people, and so my question to the attorney general is, good start, maybe, but we need to find out if they’ll have that independence,” Rogers said on CBS. “And this needs to be fair, it shouldn’t be a partisan thing.”
Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was defeated by Obama in the 2008 presidential election, has called for an independent special counsel to look into the disclosures.
“It’s obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are with the administration,” McCain told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “The president might not have done it himself, but the president is certainly responsible as commander in chief.”
The FBI is investigating the leaks. The Central Intelligence Agency has denied Rogers’ committee’s request for information.
Holder named Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, U.S. attorney for Maryland, to investigate the leaks.
David Axelrod, Obama’s top campaign strategist, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that he’s been careful not to give Holder political advice to avoid appearing to exert influence over the Justice Department.
“So, I was very scrupulous about my interactions with the attorney general, though he’s a friend,” Axelrod said.