(WASHINGTON) — Describing the string of recent intelligence leaks to news outlets as “disturbing” and “simply unacceptable,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., accused the White House of putting the president’s ambitions for another term in the Oval Office ahead of national security.
“A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his re-election at the expense of our national security,” McCain said on the Senate floor late Tuesday.
The Arizona senator was speaking about criticism the Obama administration has received for news reports in which they cite leaked classified or highly sensitive information. McCain suggested the leaks are coordinated and appear to be evidence of a “broader administration effort to paint a portrait of President Obama as a “strong leader” on national security issues.
McCain specifically pointed to the June 1 New York Times article on the president’s secret decision to accelerate cyber-attacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities with a computer virus, the May 29 New York Times article that divulged classified information regarding U.S. plans to expand the secret drone campaign against terrorists in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, and the article this week on the administration’s so-called “kill list” of counter-terrorism targets.
McCain announced that the Senate Armed Service Committee, on which he is the ranking member, will be holding hearings on the leaks sometime soon. The senator also proposed appointing a special counsel to investigate what happened with each of the specific leaks and potentially prosecute those responsible.
“I call on the president to take immediate and decisive action — including the appointment of a special counsel to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible.”
McCain said such leaks can undermine similar ongoing or future operations and compromises national security by informing our nation’s enemies.
“For this reason, regardless of how politically useful these leaks may be to the president, they have to stop,” McCain said, “I find that interesting considering that the only conceivable motive for such damaging and compromising leaks of classified information is that it makes the president look good.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kevin Liptak, Ariane de Vogue and Manu Raju, CNN Newswire
Phil Mattingly, Tom LoBianco and David Mark, CNN