from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2012, Issue No. 54
June 6, 2012

Secrecy News Blog:


Sen. John McCain asked the Obama Administration to appoint a special counsel to investigate recent leaks of classified information to the news media. He condemned the disclosure of classified information in several recent news stories involving U.S. cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear program and the use of drones in targeted killing programs, among others. And he accused the Obama Administration of willfully promoting the disclosures.

The leaks appear to be part of "a broader effort by the administration to paint a portrait of the President of the United States as a strong leader on national security issues," Sen. McCain said on the Senate floor yesterday.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss echoed that assessment. "From kill lists and bin Laden movies to cyber warfare, it appears nothing is off-limits, nothing is too secret, no operation is too sensitive, and no source is too valuable to be used as a prop in this election year posturing."

Sen. McCain therefore demanded an urgent investigation into the leaks.

"I call on the President to take immediate and decisive action, including the appointment of a special counsel, to aggressively investigate the leak of any classified information on which the recent stories were based and, where appropriate, to prosecute those responsible," he said.

Sen. McCain indicated that Sen. Carl Levin, chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had agreed to hold hearings on the subject.

Beyond the expression of outrage, Sen. McCain's statement had a number of other interesting features.

He noted the "unacceptable" incongruity of prosecuting lower-level personnel such as Bradley Manning, Jeffrey Sterling or John Kiriakou for allegedly leaking classified information while holding senior officials blameless for what appear to be comparable offenses.

"The fact that this administration would aggressively pursue leaks perpetrated by a 22-year-old Army private in the Wikileaks matter and former CIA employees in other leaks cases but apparently sanction leaks made by senior administration officials for political purposes is simply unacceptable," Sen. McCain said.

Sen. Chambliss added that "This administration reminds us repeatedly that they are prosecuting more people for leaking classified information than ever before, and I support that effort. But just as we hold ordinary government employees accountable for violating their oaths to protect our Nation's secrets, we must also hold the most senior administration officials accountable."

Sen. McCain also made the complicating observation that leaks of classified information are normal, to be expected, and sometimes positively desirable.

"As my colleague well knows, the leaks are part of the way the environment exists in our Nation's capital, and leaks will always be part of the relationship between media and both elected and appointed officials. I understand that. I think my colleague would agree there have been times where abuses have been uncovered and exposed because of leaks..., and we have always applauded that," Sen. McCain said.

Further, he noted, "There has also continuously been a problem of overclassification of information so government officials don't have to--be it Republican or Democratic administrations--discuss what is going on publicly." But he did not call for a special counsel to investigate overclassification or propose other measures to address that problem.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein also issued a statement yesterday condemning leaks. She noted her intention to include new provisions in the pending intelligence authorization bill to require "more forceful investigations of unauthorized disclosures" and "additional authorities and resources for the U.S. government to identify and prosecute" those who leak classified information.


The Department of Defense is by far the largest government consumer of energy, having spent around $17 billion on fuel last year, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service.

"DOD's reliance on fuel can lead to financial, operational, and strategic challenges and risks," which are explored in the report. See Department of Defense Energy Initiatives: Background and Issues for Congress, June 5, 2012:

Other new and updated CRS reports that Congress has barred CRS from publishing online include the following.

Federal Research and Development Funding: FY2013, June 1, 2012:

Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations, May 31, 2012:

The U.S. Postal Service's Use of Contractors to Deliver Mail: Background and Recent Developments, May 29, 2012:

Department of Homeland Security Appropriations: A Summary of the House- and Senate-Reported Bills for FY2013, June 1, 2012:

Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts, June 5, 2012:

Ability to Repay, Risk-Retention Standards, and Mortgage Credit Access, June 5, 2012:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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