President Obama is crying foul against allegations that White House officials leaked classified information to the media for political gain, insisting that the White House would never “purposely” pass on classified secrets. The Hill reports:
“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive,” Obama said. “It’s wrong, and people I think need to have a better sense of how I approach this office, and the people around me approach this office.” …
Obama said the White House has “mechanisms in place” to “root out” people who leak national security information.
“When this information or reports, whether true of false, surface on the front page of newspaper — that makes the jobs of folks on the front lines tougher, and it makes my job tougher, which is why my attitude has been zero tolerance for these type of leaks and speculation,” Obama said.
As Politico’s Josh Gerstein suggests, the “purposely” qualifier sounds like an escape hatch. Obama didn’t deny that the White House released the information, just that it was not done intentionally or with a purpose in mind.
Meanwhile, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers is hinting he has information the administration had relaxed rules on classified information for some in the media:
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) stopped short of asserting that the leaks were politically motivated, but he said the administration had decided to share some classified information with the media.
“The committee has materials suggesting that agencies were instructed to expand the scope of classified information they gave to the press. We know in some cases someone from a segment of the media was present in a classified setting,” Rogers said.
Republicans are continuing to call for an independent investigation, and the normally tough-on-leakers Obama administration is still stonewalling the idea.