By Tomer Ovadia
Rep. Peter King alleged Friday that "all the evidence points towards the White House" as the source of recent reports that President Barack Obama signed a secret order to provide U.S. support to Syrian rebels -- and that the information was leaked to "enhance" Obama's reputation.
"To me, all the evidence points towards the White House, and that compromises us because there were two other major allies involved with us in that, and there are tremendous hard feelings and a sense of betrayal from them," the House Homeland Security committee chairman said on Fox News, referring to U.S. allies Turkey and Yemen.
White House National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor condemned King's comments in a statement to POLITICO.
"National security leaks are a very serious problem that we must address," Vietor wrote. "But this kind of false, unfounded accusation based on no evidence make matters worse and is just wrong.
Reports surfaced Thursday that Obama had authorized nonlethal aid, such as communications equipment, to the Syrian rebels. In response, King sent a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, asking that the agency add these reports to an investigation he had requested into national security leaks.
"These reported disclosures represent additional disturbing and irresponsible leaks of potentially classified information from this Administration," he wrote [pdf]. "Obviously, the ongoing investigations have failed to deter further leaks.
"The administration's leaks must stop before they further endanger the lives of men and women sent into harm's way on our nation's behalf."
The New York Republican sees political machinations behind the alleged leaks.
"The only thing I can think of this is an attempt to rehabilitate the president going into an election year to show that he's a tough guy," he said on Fox. "The president deserves credit for killing Osama bin Laden, but at that time they went beyond anything that had to be disclosed. I think it's to enhance his reputation and it's done in an irresponsible way."
Vietor says it's King who's playing politics.
"If we want to address these issues in an effective, thoughtful way, we need to turn of the partisan press release machine and have a serious conversation about the problem. This is too important to become just another political attack."