Senator John McCain said Sunday that President Obama bears ultimate responsibility for a raft of intelligence leaks that McCain and others believe are designed to make the president look good in an election year.
The New York Times revealed the existence of Obama’s secret “kill list” in a May 29 report that was based in part on interviews with unnamed current and former national security advisers to the president. The story depicted Obama as highly aggressive on, and personally involved in, counterterrorism decisions.
“When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation,” The Times reported.
Two days later, the Times uncovered a sophisticated system of cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities using a computer worm called Stuxnet. That report, the paper said, was based on 18 months of interviews with officials who would not allow their names to be used “because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day.”
McCain and other Republicans suggested last week that the Obama White House is deliberately leaking information to the press to help the president appear tough on terrorism.
“A really disturbing aspect of this is that one could draw the conclusion from reading these articles that it is an attempt to further the president’s political ambitions for the sake of his reelection at the expense of our national security,” McCain said on the Senate floor last Tuesday.
During a Sunday morning interview on CNN, McCain stopped short of saying Obama had direct knowledge of the leaks but placed the blame squarely on his shoulders.
“I have no idea whether the president knew or did not know,” McCain said. “I have never alleged such a thing. . . . It’s obvious on its face that this information came from individuals who are in the administration. The president may not have done it himself, but the president is certainly responsible as commander in chief.”
Obama said Friday that he was insulted by GOP accusations.
“The notion that my White House would purposely release classified national security information is offensive,” Obama said. “It’s wrong.”
The Times also has said the Obama administration did not leak classified information to its reporters.