Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday blasted the Obama administration over the disclosure of classified intelligence operations, leaks he said came from the “highest levels” at the White House.
“This is the most highly classified information and it’s now been leaked by the administration at the highest levels at the White House and that’s not acceptable,” McCain said on CBS “This Morning.”
On Tuesday, McCain said the Senate Armed Services Committee would hold hearings about leaks detailing a U.S. cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear program and called for a special counsel to investigate the matter.
A report last week in The New York Times revealed how U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies used software viruses to disrupt work at an Iranian nuclear facility.
McCain suggested that the administration was leaking the information, which he called a “breach of national security,” to bolster Obama’s foreign-policy credentials ahead of November’s election.
“It makes the president look very decisive,” McCain said, “and it gives very little credit to the other men and women who make these things happen.”
“This puts American lives in danger, revealing our most highly classified operations both in cyberwar and in drones,” he said.
Senate Democrats have also expressed concerns about the leaks, but rebuffed suggestions that administration officials hope to gain politically from the disclosures.
“I just can’t believe that there’s a decision in any kind of a formal way to leak this kind of a thing,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said on Tuesday.
McCain said that even if the disclosures came from non-administration sources, White House officials should have refused to confirm sensitive, classified details to reporters.
“All they had to do was say ‘this is classified information and we won’t discuss it.’ And administration officials at the highest levels confirmed these facts, they obviously shouldn’t have done that.”
He warned that the leaks could harm American efforts against al Qaeda, which he said was “making a comeback.”
The Arizona senator also said that the leaking of national security secrets had a “human side.”
“The doctor who helped us with eliminating [Osama] bin Laden, he was identified and shouldn’t have been. He’s now been sentenced to 33 years in prison,” he said.