How High Will Leak Probe Go?

June 11, 2012

Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that two U.S. attorneys have been assigned to lead a criminal investigation into possible, unauthorized leaks of classified information is being met with skepticism by GOP lawmakers questioning whether the attorneys will be able to act independently of the Obama administration.

"I have no doubt that these U.S. attorneys are excellent prosecutors," GOP Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said. "However, they would still be operating under the Obama administration's Department of Justice. The better solution is to appoint an outside counsel to impartially investigate what will likely lead to a White House inquiry."

Holder said late Friday he had assigned the investigation to Ronald C. Machen Jr., a U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod J. Rosenstein, a U.S. attorney for Maryland.

"These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI," Holder said. "I have every confidence in their abilities to doggedly follow the facts and the evidence in the pursuit of justice wherever it leads."

The announcement follows a bipartisan call from Capitol Hill for an investigation and a special prosecutor to look into suspect national security leaks -- which congressional lawmakers say is needed because the disclosures have put Americans world-wide at risk and perhaps came from the administration.

Holder said Machen and Rosenstein are "fully authorized" to prosecute criminal violations and talk with U.S. intelligence officials and that their investigations can reach into Congress and the administration.

Still, congressional Republicans expressed uncertainty.

"The Attorney General is so politicized in his office," Texas GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox News on Saturday. "I just hope these U.S. attorneys will be totally independent and go where the trail leads them."

The CIA and the Justice Department's national security division said before Holder's announcement that they will not participate in investigations.

President Obama said Friday that the leaks did not come from the White House.

"The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive," he said.

However, the administration reportedly has not support the appointment of a special prosecutor.

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