Recent scoops on national security have drawn the ire of Republican lawmakers, who have accused the Obama White House of leaking stories that burnish its image.
Obama responded that he has “zero tolerance” for leaks. He also said: “the writers of these articles have all stated unequivocally that they didn’t come from this White House. And that’s not how we operate.”
Someone somewhere has to be talking. Eric Holder said he’s assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead separate criminal investigations into “potential unauthorized disclosures.” Although the Justice Department won’t comment on which particular leaks are under investigation, unnamed officials (of course) have given reporters an idea.
Here’s what we know about leak investigations underway, the legality of leaks, and why leak prosecutions have been so rare.
The New York Times reported that Obama ordered cyberattacks against Iran using Stuxnet, a computer virus the U.S. developed with Israel.
Sources: “participants” in the program and the attack, “members of the president’s national security team,” “current and former American, European and Israeli officials,” “one of [Obama’s] aides,” “a senior administration official.”
Investigation: The CIA reportedly sent a “crime report” to the Justice Department on the leak, and it is—as unnamed officials told Reuters—one of the two new investigations.
Leak: Foiled Underwear Bomber
The AP reported that the CIA foiled an Al-Qaeda plot out of Yemen to deploy a new kind of underwear bomb. Subsequent stories identified the role of a double-agent in stopping the plot.
Sources: “U.S. officials who were briefed on the operation.”
Investigation: The story also apparently prompted the CIA to send a “crime report” to the Justice Department, making it the second of the criminal inquiries mentioned by Holder.