House, Senate Intelligence heads demand thorough leaks inquiry

Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate and criminally prosecute “possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information” regarding U.S. cyberattacks against Iran, a “kill list” of terror suspects and the infiltration of al Qaeda in Yemen. 

Some Republicans have called for an independent counsel instead of relying on political appointees.

“We're going to have to see what their reporting structure is,” House Intelligence committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) told CBS's Face the Nation. “My question to the attorney general is: Good start, maybe, but we need to find out if they'll have that independence. And this needs to be fair; it shouldn't be a partisan thing.”

Rogers's counterpart in the Senate, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), also demanded an unbiased investigation that's rigorous, nonpartisan and rapid.

“Hopefully it's enough to get to a relatively quick disposition,” she said. “The intelligence is related to the nation's security. And I think that's an important point.”

Some Republicans have accused the White House of deliberately timing the leaks to bolster President Obama's national security credentials ahead of the November elections. Instead, the bipartisan outrage could end up hurting him if voters conclude that the administration put politics ahead of the nation's safety.

Obama has categorically denied any White House involvement.

“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive,” Obama said at a brief White House news conference on Friday. “It’s wrong.”

Feinstein said she believes the president when asked if she thinks the White House was involved.

“I can't answer that; I don't know,” she said. “But I take the president at face value.”

Rogers however pointed out that news articles based on the leaks have cited senior aides and people in the White House Situation Room, leaving disturbing questions.

“It can't be based on an election timeframe,” he said. “The investigators have to have the ability to take the investigation where it goes.”