The Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday expressed worry that leaks to press about a cyber attack on Iran authorized by the Obama administration could lead to a counter-attack on the U.S.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined other senior Senate Democrats in expressing serious concerns about the leak, which detailed a cyber attack intended to harm Iran’s nuclear program. Some Republicans argue the information was leaked to help President Obama’s re-election campaign.
Feinstein said the fact that the U.S. is launching cyber attacks against other countries could “to some extent” provide justification for cyberattacks against the U.S.
“This is like an avalanche. It is very detrimental and candidly, I found it very concerning,” Feinstein told reporters Tuesday. “There’s no question that this kind of thing hurts our country.”
Several Democrats noted the Iranian cyber leak is just the latest in a series of media reports about classified U.S. anti-terrorism activity.
“A number of those leaks, and others in the last months about drone activities and other activities are frankly all against national security interests,” said Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “I think they’re dangerous, damaging, and whoever is doing that is not acting in the interest of the United States of America.”
Feinstein and Kerry, however, rejected Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) charge that the leaks were politically motivated to boost President Obama’s image.
Kerry said that he “categorically” rejected the accusations that the leaks were coming from the White House for politically purposes.
And Feinstein said she did not think the White House leaked the cyber story for political purposes.
“That’s hard for me to believe,” she said.
A story in last week’s New York Times revealed U.S. involvement with the Stuxnet virus, a computer virus that was used against Iranian nuclear facilities and caused centrifuges to explode. The story detailed joint U.S. and Israeli efforts to develop the virus as well as conversations Obama had with his advisors on whether to continue the program when the virus became public in 2010. The story cited unnamed current and former U.S., Israeli and European officials.
McCain accused the White House of leaking the story for political purposes, a charge he continued to make on Tuesday as he has called for an investigation into the leak.