White House press secretary Jay Carney was careful Monday to only condemn the “unauthorized” leak of classified information.
Carney was responding to a question about the range of information National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden may have access to as he continues to evade American authorities.
“I can simply say that we are concerned about, in general, the leak of — unauthorized leaks of — classified information,” Carney told reporters from the White House press room. “We’re concerned about the kinds of information that has been leaked.”
Carney’s language — he repeated “unauthorized leaks” many times on Monday — demonstrates the delicate line the White House has walked since Snowden began revealing the extent of the government’s secret surveillance capabilities.
White House observers have noted that the Obama administration has regularly leaked information that reflects well on the president or supports his agenda.
White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest even dodged a question earlier this month about the White House presumably giving The New York Times access to highly classified information.
“[A]re you denying there was an authorized leak?” a reporter asked Earnest on June 1. “I’m saying that I’m not in a position to talk to you about any of the details that were included in the story,” Earnest replied.
On Monday, Carney placed his emphasis on the damaging nature of only “unauthorized” leaks.
“We’ve said all along, the disclosure of this kind of highly classified material is extremely damaging to our national security,” Carney said, referring to information made public by Snowden, “and gives our terrorist enemies a playbook for our activities designed to thwart them.”
“So the implications for this kind of unauthorized release of information are pretty profound,” Carney said.