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

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid