Republican Party stalwarts are calling for a special counsel to look into leaks in the Obama Administration’s national security team.
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for them to oppose it,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who lost to President Barack Obama in 2008, and who today introduced a resolution asking for a special counsel. The Hill reported that McCain said, “They all supported the appointment of a special counsel when the issue was far less serious than this one.”
McCain was referring to the Plame affair, in which a covert CIA operative was outed by the Bush White House in an effort to discredit opponents of the Iraq War. The investigation into the affair ultimately led to the arrest and conviction of Vice Presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, whose sentence was commuted by then-President George W. Bush.
Both Democrats and Republicans agree that leaks about the ongoing U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program are harmful and problematic, but Democrats sharply disagreed with the need to appoint a prosecutor.
“To have a fight over how we do this now will set back any leak investigation,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., during a hearing of the Judiciary committee.
Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two Justice Department officials to investigate the leaks: Rod Machen, who was appointed by George W. Bush, and Rod Rosenstein, who worked for former special counsel Ken Starr during the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.
“We have people who have shown independence, an ability to be thorough and who have the guts to ask tough questions,” Holder told the Judiciary committee. “And the charge that I’ve given them is to follow the leads wherever they are, whether it is — wherever it is in the executive branch or some other component of government. I have great faith in their abilities.”
But Republicans were not mollified.
“The question that’s raised by your answer is whether you have the independence when all of this comes back through you, and given your track record,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, to Holder.
“There’s no doubt in my mind if the shoe was on the other foot, you and everybody on that side would be screaming,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., during the committee hearing. That statement drew a sharp rebuke from Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who said Graham’s comments were “over the line.”
Republicans appear to have seized on leaks as a means to cudgel the Obama Administration on foreign policy. Obama has received plaudits for ending the Iraq War and killing Osama bin Laden, and has his strongest approval ratings on foreign policy. Indeed, Obama has received sharper criticism from the left than the right, especially for using the Espionage Act to prosecute six different people for leaking information.
Image Credit: Marc Nozell