By Chad Pergram, ,
Published December 23, 2015
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, told President Obama Thursday he’d like to interview seven current and former administration officials who may know something about a spate of national security leaks.
The request follows suggestions by lawmakers a day earlier that they’re interested in potentially pursuing a congressional investigation into the leaks, on top of the Department of Justice-led probe.
“Concern about these leaks knows no party line. When national security secrets leak and become public knowledge, our people and our national interests are jeopardized. And when our enemies know our secrets, American lives are threatened,” Smith said in a letter to the president.
The administration officials include National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, Director for Counterterrorism Audrey Tomason and National Security Advisor to the Vice President Antony Blinken.
“These individuals should be prepared to discuss, to the full extent of their knowledge, how, why, and by whom each of the following classified matters was leaked or otherwise became public information accessible to America’s enemies,” Smith wrote.
Members of the Judiciary Committee argued over a possible inquiry at a hearing on Wednesday. Smith wrote a letter to Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the panel, asking him to provide a list of figures he’d like the panel to interview or subpoena as a part of a possible probe.
Conyers replied to Smith on Thursday. Conyers declined to comply with Smith’s request to provide a list of people to interview. Instead, Conyers told the Texas Republican he thought that some of the allegations were unfounded about who may have leaked critical information.
In his missive to the president, Smith said the committee intends to focus on seven national security leaks to the media. They include information about the Iran-targeted Stuxnet and Flame virus attacks, the administration’s targeted killings of terrorism suspects and the raid which killed Usama bin Laden.
Smith wants to know how details about the operations of SEAL Team Six, which executed the bin Laden raid in Pakistan, wound up in the hands of film producers making a film for the president’s re-election. Also on the docket is the identity of the doctor who performed DNA tests which helped lead the U.S. to bin Laden’s hideout.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., argued that congressional oversight of the intelligence leaks was important. But she said she would defer any questions until a probe by the Justice Department, directed by two U.S. attorneys, is complete.
“I believe right now the administration has put in place a way to look at how these leaks occurred,” Pelosi said.
In June, more than 30 Republican senators also wrote a letter expressing concern about the leaks. It accused Donilon of being a possible source. The senators noted Donilon was mentioned multiple times in the book "Confront and Conceal” by David Sanger of the New York Times.