Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also denounced the leaks as a way to “bolster the Democratic president’s national security credentials ahead of the November presidential election,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Chambliss has joined McCain’s call for a special prosecutor.
The chorus of voices calling on Obama to appoint a special counsel is growing louder, according to Scott Shane of The New York Times:
Calls for a special counsel to investigate leaks of classified information by Obama administration officials gathered momentum on Thursday after the Justice Department’s national security division partly recused itself from the inquiry, apparently because of the possibility that the department might have been a source of some of the disclosures.
As Shane reminded us:
During President George W. Bush’s administration, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a veteran prosecutor and now the United States attorney in Chicago, was appointed [special counsel] to investigate the disclosure that Valerie Plame Wilson was an undercover C.I.A. officer. That inquiry eventually led to the conviction of an aide to Vice President Dick Cheney for perjury.
Instead of complying with the special counsel requests, Attorney General Eric Holder announced late Friday that he has “assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr. and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein to lead criminal investigations into recent instances of possible unauthorized disclosures of classified information.” Because Holder didn’t appoint them as special counsels, they don’t have plenary authority in the matter as Fitzgerald had in the far less serious Plame investigation.
Imagine the outrage and repercussions directed at George W. Bush by Democrats and the media if his attorney general had refused to appoint Fitzgerald as special counsel.
Since the Justice Department’s national security division has “partly recused itself from the inquiry,” will Holder stonewall an investigation of the division by Machen and Rosenstein? And how about Obama’s White House?
The potential for pregnant denials is boundless.
Jan LaRue is a senior legal analyst with the American Civil Rights Union.