Senators ask Holder to appoint independent counsel to investigate leaks

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

Thirty-one Republican senators want Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint an independent special counsel to investigate the “avalanche” of intelligence leaks coming out of the Obama administration.

“The numerous national security leaks reportedly originating out of the Executive Branch in recent months have been stunning,” said a letter to Holder, drafted by South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. “If true, they reveal details of some of our Nation’s most highly classified and sensitive military and intelligence matters, thereby risking our national security, as well as the lives of American citizens and our allies. If there were ever a case requiring an outside special counsel with bipartisan acceptance and widespread public trust, this is it.”

Amid bipartisan criticism in recent weeks, Holder appointed two U.S. attorneys — Ron Machen of the District of Columbia and Rod Rosenstein of Maryland — to investigate the matter. As those two U.S. attorneys ultimately report to Holder, Republican senators have cried foul, alleging there may be political interference in the investigation.

Former President George W. Bush appointed Rosenstein and President Barack Obama appointed Machen. The Washington Post reports that Machen has donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns over the years, starting with a $250 donation to Obama’s 2003 U.S. Senate campaign.

The 31 Republican senators, including 2008 GOP presidential candidate John McCain and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, argue that these national security leaks may be coming from high-ranking figures within the Obama White House.

“Press reports indicate that there could be many sources to the leaks within the Administration,” the senators wrote to Holder. “In fact, in Jo Becker and Scott Shane’s New York Times story, ”Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will’ the reporters state they interviewed, ‘three dozen of [Obama’s] current and former advisers.’ Tom Ricks’ recent New York Times review of David Sanger’s Confront and Conceal mentions that ‘Mr. Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the national security adviser. Mr. Donilon, in effect, is the hero of the book, as well as the commenter of record on events.’”

The GOP senators add that if the “bar for an outside special counsel were met in the cases of Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff, it is far exceeded here.”

“We are not talking about a single, isolated instance of a leak; rather, we are looking at ‘an avalanche of leaks’ on national security matters,” they wrote. “On a matter of this seriousness, there is clear precedent to appoint an outside special counsel when there is the potential for a conflict of interest, the specter of political influence, or other extraordinary circumstances. As this is clearly the case here, we request that you appoint an outside special counsel immediately.”

It’s unclear if Holder will actually appoint an independent counsel. His spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler didn’t immediately return The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

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