(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Friday adamantly denied accusations that his administration intentionally leaked classified national security information to boost his re-election campaign.
“The notion that my White House would purposefully release classified national security information is offensive. It’s wrong,” the president told reporters at the White House. “People, I think, need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office.”
“We’re dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and the security of the American people, our families, or our military personnel or our allies,” he added. “We don’t play with that, and it is a source of consistent frustration, not just for my administration, but for previous administrations when this stuff happens. And we will continue to let everybody know, in government or after they leave government, that they have certain obligations that they should carry out.”
The president stressed that his administration has “zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks and speculation” and vowed to investigate.
“We have mechanisms in place where, if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences,” he said. “We will conduct thorough investigations as we have in the past.”
Outraged lawmakers sounded alarms after classified information about U.S. cyber attacks on Iran and a secret terrorist “kill list” leaked to the media. Democratic and Republican leaders of Congressional intelligence committees have since condemned the leaks.
One of the most vocal critics, Republican Sen. John McCain, has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the leaks, which he says were a strategic attempt to boost the president’s standing on national security issues ahead of November’s election.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has called McCain’s accusations “grossly irresponsible.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Farida Fawzy, CNN
Hope King, CNN
Story by John Branch, CNN Video by Nick Scott
Azadeh Ansari and Steve Almasy, CNN