President Barack Obama opposes the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether vital national security secrets were improperly disclosed in a wave of news reports detailing sensitive operations, the White House said Thursday.
"No," press secretary Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One when asked whether Obama would support such a move. Carney referred reporters to government agencies already tasked with ferreting out leakers. Some Republicans, like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, have said the administration cannot be trusted to investigate itself.
Carney also declined to say whether the administration would cooperate with congressional investigations into the disclosures. The Senate and House Intelligence Committees have said they will be looking into the matter.
"I just don't have enough information about it," Carney said.
The spokesman declined to comment on the specifics of the news reports, notably New York Times pieces on America's targeted assassination program and cyberwar on Iran's nuclear capabilities, which have triggered the often angry debate.
But "as a general matter … the president feels very strongly that we must prevent leaks of classified or sensitive information that could risk ongoing counterterrorism or intelligence operations," Carney said. "He will not countenance the leaking of classified information that could harm our men and women in uniform, or Americans who work on our national security."
"That policy and that approach is communicated widely throughout the White House and the administration," the spokesman underlined.
Carney said the administration "takes all appropriate and necessary steps" to thwart leaks that could harm counterterrorism or intelligence operations. "Any suggestion that the White House has leaked sensitive information for political purposes has no basis in fact."
Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has repeatedly charged that the administration released sensitive information in order to polish Obama's national security credentials in an election year.