(WASHINGTON) — While Sen. John McCain Friday ratcheted up his call for a special prosecutor to investigate leaks of classified intelligence, McCain’s office said the investigation should follow the evidence wherever it goes — even if it leads to Congress.
“The investigation should go where the evidence takes it — be that the White House, administration or Congress,” a McCain aide told ABC News.
Republicans have accused the White House of leaking the information purposefully in an effort to make the president look good, but White House officials would not be the only ones with access to the kind of classified information that was leaked to The New York Times and other media outlets over the last two months. Some members of Congress and a small group of senior Congressional staff would likely have access to the information as well.
The president Friday condemned the leaks and called the suggestion that the White House was behind them “offensive” — a statement McCain said was not satisfactory.
“What the president did not unequivocally say today is that none of the classified or highly sensitive information recently leaked to the media came from the White House,” McCain said in a written statement Friday. “I continue to call on the president to immediately appoint a special counsel to fully investigate and, where necessary, prosecute these gravely serious breaches of our national security.”
McCain’s statement pointed out that the articles in question — including recent New York Times stories on a covert U.S. cyber attack on Iran’s nuclear program and the “kill list” of terrorists to be targeted by drone strikes — cited administration sources.
“The journalists themselves identify some of the sources for their articles as ‘administration officials,’ ‘aides’ to the president,’ ‘members of the president’s national security team who were in the [White House Situation Room]’ during key discussions, an official ‘who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a classified program,’ and ‘current … American officials’,” McCain said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Tom LoBianco, CNN
Stefania Okolie and Gabrielle Harmon, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN