(WASHINGTON) — Keeping the drumbeat up, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., introduced a resolution in the Senate Tuesday calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the string of recent national security and intelligence leaks.
“I can’t think of any time that I have seen such breaches of ongoing national security programs as has been the case here,” McCain said from the Senate floor Tuesday. “The damage to our national security has been articulated by many both in and outside of the administration, including the most damaging that we have seen, including our director of national intelligence saying that it’s the worst that he’s seen in his 30 years of service.”
The non-binding resolution expresses the Sense of the Senate that Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint an outside special counsel to investigate the unauthorized disclosure of classified and sensitive information by administration officials.
Based on that information, the resolution states the president should assess whether any such unauthorized disclosures of classified and highly sensitive information damaged national security and how such damage can be mitigated.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said that not only would this serve the country well but it would serve Attorney General Holder well too.
“We’re setting a precedent,” Graham said of the need to appoint a special prosecutor, “for us to say that we don’t need one here is a precedent that will haunt the country and this body and future White Houses in a way that I think is very disturbing.”
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., says that he’s never been an advocate of the special counsel but he believes that this is a case where it is needed, given the magnitude of some of the leaks added all together.
Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information. The White House has been insistent that there is “no need” for a special counsel.
“There is no need for a special counsel. These things have consistently been investigated when that’s appropriate,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., dismissed the call for a special prosecutor as nothing more than a “strictly partisan, insincere attempt to embarrass the president,” and said the appointment of two U.S. attorneys is enough.
“Two of the finest prosecutors we have in the Justice Department are working on this as we speak,” Reid said. “It isn’t anything that anyone wants. Leaks happen. We don’t know where these leaks came from. That’s why taking a look at this is a good idea, and that’s what the attorney general agreed.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Herb Scribner, Deseret News
WGCL CBS 46
David Chalian, CNN
Jeremy Diamond, CNN