A recent flurry of high profile intelligence leaks has lawmakers in both parties in Congress pointing the finger of blame at the White House, as Thursday will bring a rare joint, bipartisan news conference on the matter by top lawmakers on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.
“The accelerating pace of such disclosures, the sensitivity of the matters in question, and the harm caused to our national security interests is alarming and unacceptable,” said the top Democrats and Republicans on those two panels in a joint news release.
“These disclosures have seriously interfered with ongoing intelligence programs and have put at jeopardy our intelligence capability to act in the future,” the lawmakers added.
The latest leak came last week, when the New York Times reported that a computer virus which attacked the nuclear program of Iran was actually a product of a United States cyber attack on the Tehran regime.
Until then, most experts had assumed that the Israeli government was the one behind the effort to disrupt Iranian nuclear centrifuges – instead, the report made clear the plan was started in the Bush Administration and actively continued by the Obama Administration.
Leaks are nothing new in this town – and most of the time, the person who leaks material to the press is never held accountable.
The best part about covering the Congress is that many lawmakers have big, fat mouths, and they will at times lay out details of intelligence briefings to reporters.
As a reporter, it usually isn’t difficult to figure out if a leak of certain information is coming from a Presidential administration or the Congress – as these recent leaks seemed to me to be from down the street, and not on Capitol Hill.
They prompted Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to label it an “avalanche” of leaks in recent weeks, as she joined in demanding an end to the public revelations.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had taken it a step further earlier this week, when he accused the White House of leaking classified material for political gain, a charge the White House angrily denied on Wednesday.
“This administration takes all appropriate and necessary steps to prevent leaks of classified information or sensitive information,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
“Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible,” Carney added.
The joint statement raising questions about Obama Administration leaks was rare enough – so is their Thursday news conference.
We’ll see if their comments are even more pointed in public.