Defense & National Security

John McCain renews call for investigation into ‘avalanche of leaks’

John McCain renews call for investigation into 'avalanche of leaks'

Renewing the call for an independent investigation of classified national security disclosures that have been made public in recent media reports, 31 Republican senators sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Tuesday, laying out the seriousness of the leaked information and the importance of an impartial probe.

For the first time, the senators also named names, citing a New York Times review of its own reporter David Sanger’s news-breaking book “Confront and Conceal,” which taps National Security Adviser Tom Donilon as a potential key source of the classified information.

“Mr. Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book, as well as the commenter of record on events,” NYT writer Tom Ricks writes, in a quote that was reproduced in the letter.

But when Human Events asked Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about Donilon at a morning press conference, the Arizona senator appeared to back down somewhat.

“I really don’t know,” he told Human Events. “That’s why we need to have an investigation. I’m not ready to indict someone until an investigation is complete.”

The letter went on to compare the recent release of classified information about cyber-attacks on Iran and other covert operations to the Bush-era Valerie Plame scandal, citing a letter from then-Sen. Barack Obama petitioning Congress for a special, independent counsel to investigate.

“If the bar for an outside special counsel were met in the cases of Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff, it is far exceeded here,” the senators wrote. “We are not talking about a single, isolated instance of a leak; rather, we are looking at ‘an avalanche of leaks’ on national security matters.”

The truth is that this “avalanche of leaks” can hardly be considered leaks at all.

In portions of “Confront and Conceal” cited in the press conference, Sanger discusses meeting with nearly every member of the National Security Council for a round-table discussion on Iran at President Obama’s hotel suite — the president was absent — during the 2009 G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. He also quotes top advisers from inside the Situation Room and notes that he sat down with most members of the president’s security team at least once.

The result is an opus rife with revelations about the hidden workings of U.S. national security.

“We as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee can’t even confirm whether these programs exist,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, (R-Ga.), the committee’s ranking member said.

Rather than covert sharing of the nation’s secrets, the book appears to be the product of remarkable willingness in the administration to discuss its operations freely.

“The phrase ‘leaks’… I think really doesn’t do justice to the process of building a book,” Sanger said at a forum this month hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “You talk to many, many people in many countries and you try to assemble as best you can the story of what has happened.”

At the organization Judicial Watch, a Freedom of Information request returned proof in late May that the White House had given filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow extensive access to details of the Osama bin Laden raid, including the identity of a leader of SEAL Team Six.

Though Obama has said that allegations his administration released privileged information are absurd, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) posed an obvious question at this week’s presser.

“Where is the outrage in this administration?” he asked. “Where is any indication that within this administration officials are outraged at the criminal leaks of classified information that put our agents and our friends at risk?”

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