White House: ‘No Need for a Special Counsel’ to Probe National Security Leaks

By Fred Lucas | June 12, 2012 | 6:13 AM EDT

(CNSNews.com) – The White House on Monday dismissed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the national security leaks that have prompted concern from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The New York Times recently reported that President Obama had approved “kill lists” for the U.S. drones strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. The newspaper also revealed the extent of U.S. involvement in cyber attacks on Iran. And other news outlets have leaked details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

Speaking on CNN’s "State of the Union" Sunday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said “it's obvious” that the leaks “came from individuals who are in the administration. The president may not have done it himself, but the president is certainly responsible as commander-in-chief.”

But on Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that any notion the White House was responsible for the leaks “is wrong and absurd.”

A reporter followed, “How can you say unequivocally that it’s wrong and absurd? Have you done an internal investigation?”

Carney responded, “I can tell you that this administration -- this White House, under the guidance of the president, takes very seriously the need to protect classified and sensitive information, the need to do so for our national security interests to protect our counterterrorism operations and other operations that are undertaken by our forces and our government”

Since the president says he has zero tolerance for such leaks, why not support a special prosecutor? a reporter asked.

“I would refer you to the Department of Justice and the FBI when it regards questions of matters under investigation or potential investigation,” Carney said. “So there is no need for a special counsel. These things have consistently been investigated when that’s appropriate.”

During a White House news conference Friday, Obama said, “The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive.  It's wrong.  And 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.”

Later that day, McCain responded in a statement, “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. 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.”

Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks.

On Sunday, McCain -- on CNN’s "State of the Union" -- repeated that a special counsel should be appointed to lead the leaks investigation.

“I have great respect for the two individuals (the U.S. attorneys from D.C. and Maryland) that were appointed,” McCain told CNN. But he also noted that Eric Holder has no credibility with Congress.

“This needs a special counsel, someone entirely independent of the Justice Department,” McCain insisted – “someone with credibility like Mr. Bob Bennett.”