A group of Republican senators led by Arizona Sen. John McCain sought to stir up outrage on Tuesday in hopes of having a special counsel named to investigate classified intelligence leaks from the Obama administration.
"Where is the outrage?" the senators asked at a press conference on Capitol Hill.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP
From left, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, take turns at the microphones to assert their belief that President Obama's administration has orchestrated disclosure of classified information for political gain, during a news conference on Capitol Hill.
"We need a special counsel. We need someone who the American people can trust, and we need to stop the leaks that are endangering the lives of those men and women who are serving our country with valor our courage. And they deserve a lot better," McCain told reporters.
McCain read excerpts of David Sanger's book that, he said, indicated senior Obama administration officials had publicly discussed classified information. He pointed to a meeting Sanger had in the presidential suite at the G20 in Pittsburgh in 2009 where officials shared intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.
"How does a person be brought up to the presidential suite and be briefed by quote 'national security personnel' unless they are at the highest level?" he asked.
McCain said the professional, non-political intelligence officers he has spoken with are "distraught" and "outraged" by the leaks.
The senators said at issue are reports about the NAVY Seal raid on Osama bin Laden, U.S. missions in Pakistan, the outinf of a Yemeni double agent and details of a cyberwar against Iran and the U.S. drone program.
McCain called the new rules to stop leaks announced by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper yesterday "important," but not enough.
The ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, said the president needs to step up his concern.
"What the president ought to be saying is, this is very damaging to the country and we're going to do everything we can to get to the bottom of it," he said.
He warned: "Is it going to take one of our sources not just having his life put in danger but being injured, who knows what else may happen to somebody out there now, before this administration gets serious about this and does get outraged? ... What's it going to take to get this administration outraged about this?"
"where is the outrage in this administration?" added Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker (R). "Where is there any indication that within the Obama administration officials are outraged at the criminal leaks of classified information that put our agents and our friends at risk?"
The senators are calling for a special prosecutor because they say it is nearly impossible to have an independent investigation of the leaks by U.S. attorneys who report to Attorney General Eric Holder.
"Now do we really think in spite of the capability of these two US attorneys that when you have somebody who is appointed by the administration, are they really going to be unbiased in their investigation of the administration that appointed them?" Chambliss asked.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who has clashed publicly with Holder, calling for his resignation at a Senate hearing earlier this month, said "this administration cannot be trusted to investigate itself."
Cornyn said a congressional investigation may be necessary. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has expressed support for the U.S. attorney’s investigation. She said she does not believe a special prosecutor is necessary and would take too much time.