News / USA

US National Security Leaks Roil Capitol Hill

US Attorney General Eric Holder Jun 12, 2012US Attorney General Eric Holder Jun 12, 2012
x
US Attorney General Eric Holder Jun 12, 2012
US Attorney General Eric Holder Jun 12, 2012
Michael Bowman
CAPITOL HILL - U.S. congressional Democrats and the Obama administration are resisting Republican demands for an independent probe of national security leaks to the news media. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sat Tuesday at the center of the growing firestorm on Capitol Hill, where he rejected a call for his resignation.

Recent months have seen detailed news media accounts of U.S. cyber activities against Iran, anti-terrorist drone operations, and covert U.S. activities in Yemen. Lawmakers of both parties have decried the leaking of classified information that could compromise national security.

What to do about it has become a partisan issue on Capitol Hill. The Justice Department has assigned two federal prosecutors to lead an investigation.

That does not satisfy Republicans like Senator John McCain of Arizona. “Here we are with a very serious breach of national security - in the view of some, the most serious in recent history. And it clearly cries out for the appointment of a special counsel,” McCain said.

Republicans allege that White House officials leaked the information to bolster public awareness and approval of President Barack Obama’s national security record as he runs for re-election - imperiling national security for political gain.

Under such circumstances, Republicans argue the leaks investigation must be removed from the control of the Obama Justice Department. Attorney General Eric Holder testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he heard repeated Republican demands for a special counsel to lead the probe.

“All I am asking for is for you to find a lawyer in this country that all of us could say - virtually all of us could say - ‘That is the right person to do this job’,”  said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Graham pointed out that, years ago, as senators, both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden called for independent investigations of misdeeds committed during the former Bush administration.

Attorney General Holder defended the integrity and professionalism of the prosecutors assigned to the case. “The two people I have appointed to look into these matters are first-rate prosecutors who will do, I think, a great job,” Holder said.

On the Senate floor, Democrats blocked a Republican motion calling for a special counsel. Meanwhile, at the Judiciary Committee hearing, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy urged patience.

“I think before we prejudge what these U.S. attorneys are going to do, let us see what they do,” Leahy said.

But patience on the Republican side is in short supply, particularly regarding Attorney General Holder. The Republican-led House of Representatives is considering a “contempt of Congress” vote against Holder over the withholding of documents demanded by lawmakers on an unrelated matter.

At the committee hearing, Senator John Cornyn of Texas had a blunt message for America’s top law enforcement official.

“You leave me no alternative but to join those that call upon you to resign your office. Americans deserve an attorney general who will be honest with them. They deserve an attorney general who will uphold the basic standards of political independence and accountability. You have proven time and time again, sadly, that you are unwilling to do so,” Cornyn said.

Given an opportunity to respond, Holder said Cornyn’s statement was “breathtaking” in its inaccuracy.

“So I do not have any intention of resigning,” Holder said.

Holder added that he has repeatedly offered to meet personally with Republican lawmakers to address their concerns relating to the Justice Department. He said Republicans have been unresponsive to these offers - an indication, according to Holder, that they are motivated by partisan political concerns.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid