By Jeremy Herb
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) on Thursday said he does not think the recent spate of national security leaks are coming from the Pentagon.
“I feel pretty secure that they’re not,” McKeon told reporters after a closed-door hearing with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson.
At a news conference following the hearing, McKeon and ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said they felt the Pentagon was taking steps to limit the number of intelligence leaks.
The lawmakers’ subdued, positive comments were a stark contrast from the outrage that came out of Capitol Hill last month after the leaks occurred and Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate the disclosures.
“Four million people have classified clearance,” McKeon said. “It’s a lot of people who have a lot of information, and when you think about how much been leaked based on how many people have information, actually they’re doing pretty good.”
The outrage in Congress over leaks blew up after a media report disclosed U.S. cyberattacks on Iran. Lawmakers from both parties called for new legislation and Republicans pushed an independent special counsel, rather than the Justice Department investigation.
When McKeon was asked Thursday whether the Pentagon officials thought legislation was necessary, he said they did not, and did not suggest he had his own measures coming.
All three Pentagon officials felt the leaks had caused damage, McKeon said, a position he shared.
McKeon said an unclassified follow-up hearing with the Pentagon officials could be set up in the coming weeks.