House, Senate Intelligence committees planning legislation to stop security leaks

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees said Wednesday they are planning to write legislation to attempt to stop classified national security leaks.

As congressional outrage grows over recent leaks about a U.S. cyberattack on Iran and a terrorist “kill list,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is coming to Capitol Hill Thursday morning to meet with the committee heads, Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday.

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Feinstein told reporters that they plan to discuss at the meeting “how we might stiffen up the process that’s used to investigate leaks.”

“The accelerating pace of such disclosures, the sensitivity of the matters in question, and the harm caused to our national security interests is alarming and unacceptable,” the Intelligence Committees said in a joint statement Wednesday afternoon.

“Each disclosure puts American lives at risk, makes it more difficult to recruit assets, strains the trust of our partners, and threatens imminent and irreparable damage to our national security in the face of urgent and rapidly adapting threats worldwide,” they said.


Feinstein said Thursday she was working with House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) to add provisions to this year’s intelligence authorization bill that would address the leaks.


“I’m convinced what we need to do is codify a process, and that the process that exists now is totally inadequate,” Feinstein told reporters.

The House has already passed its intelligence authorization bill, and Feinstein said she was working with Rogers on the Senate version so that the any additions could be included in conference committee.

The intelligence committees, which are holding a press conference on the leaks Thursday, aren’t the only ones jumping on the Obama administration over the disclosures.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) on Tuesday called for a special counsel to investigate the leak, and the Senate Armed Services Committee says it will hold hearings on the leaks, possibly with Feinstein’s Intelligence Committee as well.

McCain, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, has been the most vocal critic, accusing the White House of using the leaks to make President Obama look like a “tough guy” on terror before the election.

The White House issued a sharp retort to McCain on Wednesday, as press secretary Jay Carney said that accusations of political motivations behind the leaks were “grossly irresponsible” — a remark that prompted McCain to fire off his own statement using Carney’s words against the Obama administration.

McCain, who said that he will be sitting in Thursday’s meeting with Clapper, told reporters Wednesday he would likely support any legislative efforts from Feinstein, but that he was most concerned with tracking down the source of the Times’ leaks.

“I’m all for closing the barn door after the horse is gone,” McCain said, “but I want to find out who did this.”

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