Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill don’t agree on much these days, but they agree that the White House has a serious problem with leaking classified information.
And with national security in the balance, a group of congressional leaders say there’s an urgent need to get things back in line.
“A special prosecutor can take years. We don’t have years. We need to legislate and we need to do things quickly,” said Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) Thursday at a press conference of chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees.
The four legislators — Feinstein, Sen. Saxby Chambless (R-Ga.) and Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Mich) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) — said they met Thursday morning with James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, and will receive a briefing from FBI Director Robert Mueller later in the day.
But after a glut of stories about secret U.S. operations overseas – from an Associated Press reports of foiled Yemeni bomb plots to drone strikes in Pakistan to last week’s New York Times story confirming long-suspected U.S. involvement in development of the computer virus Stuxnet – they say it’s become clear that there’s a problem that the administration hasn’t been able to address on its own.
Last month’s revelation by Judicial Watch that the White House, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency allowed filmmakers unusual access to people involved in the planning and execution of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has also caused concern.
Rogers said the bipartisan presence spoke to the seriousness of the issue. Of the leaks, he said: “It seems to be a pattern that is growing worse and more frequent. … Their inability to keep a secret, this has been as serious a problem as I have seen.”
The chairman also raised the possibility some of the leaks could be coming from the Justice Department of FBI. The Justice Department’s national security division has recused itself from part of the leak investigation, Rogers said.
“It appears the sources of these leaks could be in a position to influence the investigations,” he said.
Even with Feinstein’s call for a legislative response, Rogers still wants a special prosecutor to investigate the matter because, he said, a single investigator could find evidence of wrongdoing “within their chain of command.”