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Statement by Senator John McCain on the Obama Administration's National Security Leaks


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) today released the following statement on the Obama Administration's national security leaks:
"The White House today claimed that my criticism of the Administration's involvement in, and culpability for, leaks of sensitive and classified information is "grossly irresponsible.' No, what is grossly irresponsible is U.S. officials divulging some of the most highly classified programs involving the most important national security priorities facing our nation today.

"What is grossly irresponsible is revealing a secret program to expand the use of drones for sensitive counterterrorism missions in Yemen and the Horn of Africa.

"What is grossly irresponsible is the leaking of details about a classified counterterrorism "kill list' by "administration officials' and one "official' who even requested anonymity "to speak about what is still a classified program,' according to The New York Times.

"What is grossly irresponsible is the deliberate leaking and discussion of covert and highly classified programs to launch cyber attacks against Iran's illicit nuclear program by, according to The New York Times, "participants in the program,' "aides' to the President, "members of the President's national security team who were in the [White House Situation Room]' during key discussions, and current American officials involved with the program who spoke anonymously because "the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.' Indeed, the author of the article, David Sanger, even states in his book that several of his sources would be fired for what they told him, inevitably due to the classified information that was divulged.

"Curiously, to this date, the Administration has never complained about the irresponsibility of the leaks in these articles, which could obviously harm our national security and those sworn to protect it.

"Laws have apparently been broken. For this reason, yesterday I called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate and, where appropriate, prosecute those responsible for these damaging leaks of military and intelligence secrets. My concern in this matter is shared by some of my most experienced and respected Democratic and Republican colleagues. The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), has agreed to hold a hearing investigating these leaks. The Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), stated that she is "deeply disturbed by the continuing leaks of classified information to the media, most recently regarding alleged cyber efforts targeting Iran's nuclear program,' noting that she has contacted the Obama Administration about the leaks, which "endanger American lives and undermine America's national security.' The Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), warned, "With each leak, our allies are left to wonder how much they can trust us with their secrets … Some in the administration have decided that scoring political points in an election year outweighs intelligence operations.' And the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry (D-MA), called the recent leaks "frankly all against [our] national security interest. I think they are dangerous, damaging, and whoever is doing that is not acting in the interest of the United States of America.'

"Over the course of these congressional hearings and other investigations, I would hope that the motivations for these leaks is fully examined and discussed. These leaks clearly were not done in the interest of national security or to reveal corrupt or illegal actions about which the public has a right to know, as in the case of legitimate whistleblowers. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that these recent leaks of highly classified information, all of which have the effect of making the President look strong and decisive on national security in the middle of his re-election campaign, have a deeper political motivation. Indeed, as David Sanger himself said in an interview yesterday, "I'm sure the political side of the White House probably likes reading about the President acting with drones and cyber and so forth. National security side has got very mixed emotions about it because these are classified programs.'

"This is not a game. This is far more important than mere politics. Laws have apparently been broken. This leaking of classified information needs to be investigated, and those officials who are found to be responsible, where appropriate, should be prosecuted."

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