- (Photo: Reuters/Hyungwon Kang)
The security leaks currently under investigation by the Justice Department were a threat to national security, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee.
"We were attacked. We know there are people that want to do us damage. We know there are IED factories making bombs to kill our people in Afghanistan. We know that there are groups that if they can will attack us. And therefore, the intelligence is related to the nation's security," Feinstein said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.
The information Feinstein is concerned about was reported in two separate New York Times articles. The first detailed a classified CIA operation used to strike targets with drone aircraft in Yemen and Pakistan. The second reported a top secret Israeli-American cyberattack, called Stuxnet, on Iran's nuclear program.
Feinstein also mentioned a situation in which a non-metallic bomb was being invented in Yemen. A double-agent helped sneak the bomb out of Yemen. Information about the operation was leaked, Feinstein said, before the double-agent was safely in custody, which put his life and his family at risk.
"Now, he did us a great service," Feinstein said. "He probably prevented an airliner from going down. That's lost in all of this."
On Friday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that two U.S. attorneys have been appointed to investigate the leaks.
When asked if the Justice Department appointees will have enough independence to investigate the leaks, Rogers replied that it was a "good start," but "we need to find out if they will have that independence."
"So many asked the question, me included, can you have a U.S. attorney assigned through the attorney general investigate something that is clearly going to be at the most senior levels of all of the executive branch, DoD and FBI, the attorney general's office, and even the president? And some of the leaks ... are self-described 'aides,' or people who were in the Situation Room, that's a pretty small but pretty important group of people," Rogers said.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) gave a fiery speech on the Senate floor last Tuesday in which he called for an investigation into the leaks and implied that administration officials orchestrated the leaks to "paint a portrait of the president of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues."
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, repeated the accusation in a Sunday interview on Fox News.
"He's trying to be like George Patton or John Wayne. ... There's no need, though, to put national security at risk by trying to build up [Obama's] reputation for the presidential election in November," King said.
On Friday, Obama called McCain's accusation wrong and offensive.
When Feinstein was asked if she thinks the information was leaked to make the president look good, she simply answered, "I have no information. No, I do not believe that."