McCain: Obama Responsible for Security Leaks
By Ashley Killough, CNN
(CNN) — Sen. John McCain continued his blitz against the Obama administration Sunday, saying the president was responsible for the recent national security leaks–whether he knew about them or not.
“It’s obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are in the administration,” McCain said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The president may not have done it himself, but the president certainly is responsible as commander in chief.”
His comments came after the president himself forcefully dismissed the idea on Friday that the leaks came as a form of political strategy for the White House – a claim made by some Republicans on Capitol Hill, including McCain.
“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive, it’s wrong, and people, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me approach this office,” Obama said.
A report in The New York Times last week that provided classified details of what it described as a U.S. cyberattack targeting Iran’s nuclear centrifuge program sparked bipartisan outrage.
Other recent possible leaks of classified information included details on the administration’s efforts to expand its drone program and Obama’s involvement in “kill lists” against militants in Yemen and Pakistan.
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder said he assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations into the possible leaking of state secrets.
McCain, however, strongly took issue with the Justice Department overseeing the investigation, arguing the matter at hand required independent counsel and contended that Holder did not have the credentials to manage such a task.
“Mr. Holder’s credibility with Congress is, uh, there is none,” McCain told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
He pointed to the controversial Operation Fast and Furious, which involved agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowing illegal sales of guns, believed to be destined for Mexican drug cartels, to “walk” from Phoenix gun stores into Mexico.
The failure of the program has prompted a GOP-led congressional investigation, with Holder at the center of the probe.
Switching back to the suspected security leaks, McCain described them as the “most egregious breach of intelligence in anybody’s memory” and insisted Holder be removed from the case.
“This needs a special counsel, someone entirely independent of the Justice Department,” McCain said.
On the same program Sunday, the senior adviser for Obama’s re-election team, who held a top position in the White House prior to moving to the campaign, countered recent accusations that he had been in political talks with Holder.
“I rarely spoke to him, and I didn’t ever speak to him about issues of policy in the Justice Department,” he said.
— CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.