Axelrod insists intelligence leaks not coming from White House

"The authors of all of this work have said that the White House was not the source of this information. I can't say that there weren't leaks. There were obvious leaks, but they weren't from the White House," Axelrod said on ABC's "This Week."

Recent reports in the The New York Times revealing details about a U.S. cyberattack against Iran’s nuclear program and the military’s drone strikes have led to bipartisan anger about national security leaks. 

Attorney General Eric Holder announced Friday that two U.S. attorneys would investigate the matter, but many Republicans led by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) have called for an independent counsel to probe the matter. 

McCain said Sunday that Americans should be deeply disturbed over the leaks and said they “had to come from this administration.”

President Obama on Friday said it was “offensive” to suggest the leaks were made to score political points, responding to McCain’s allegation that the disclosures may have been intended to bolster Obama’s foreign policy credentials. 

Axelrod on Sunday defended the administration. 

“I sat with the president for two years when I was in the White House. And you know, I don't think there was anything that weighed on him more heavily than these life or death decisions,” he said. “He understands that when he commits people to missions that their lives are at stake, and the safety of Americans are at stake.

“The last thing that he would countenance or anybody around him would countenance are leaks that would jeopardize the security of Americans on these secret missions, and the success of those missions,” Axelrod added. “So, you know, I think when he said on Friday that he said offended about it, he was speaking from that place.”

Axelrod said he was certain the investigation would not find White House involvement and said Obama officials had been “tougher on leaks than any administration in recent history.” 

“And we have been criticized for that,” he said.