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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs