By Jeremy Herb - 06/26/12 04:10 PM EDT
“This may rise to the level of a congressional investigation, and obviously that may have something to do with who’s in the majority in Congress,” McCain said.
McCain was one of 31 Republican senators who sent a letter on Tuesday to Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the immediate appointment of a special counsel. It came one day after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper announced two new measures to curb intelligence disclosures.
Clapper said Monday the intelligence community was adding a question to all of its polygraph tests about disclosures to the media. He instructed the Intelligence Community Inspector General to investigate any leaks the Justice Department declines to take up.
McCain said the moves Clapper made were “laudable” but did not fully address the problem.
“All he’s saying is that people will have additional polygraphs — we’ve got to find out how this all happened. That’s to some degree closing the barn door,” McCain said. “So I think it’s laudable that he has taken that step, but the fact is we need to find out how this happened, and who did it.”
Clapper’s measures came two weeks after Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate leaks that were disclosed in reports of a U.S. cyberattack on Iran and a double agent who infiltrated al Qaeda in Yemen.
But the Republican senators said the prosecutors would not be able to remain independent because they reported to Holder, who faces a contempt vote in the House this week over the “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking case.
“If we’re not going to get the kind of answer that the American people deserve out of the Attorney General and out of this administration, I think it falls to Congress to do its own independent investigation,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The GOP senators repeatedly referenced Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who has expressed her outrage over the leaks and has called for new legislation to curb disclosures.
But Feinstein is opposed to the special counsel that McCain is calling for, and she said earlier this month that the fight over it would only serve as a distraction.
Feinstein said that a special counsel would take too long to set up, and that she believed the two U.S. attorneys would lead an independent investigation.