FACT CHECK: McCain Joined Romney In Making False Claims About National Security Leaks

FACT CHECK: McCain Joined Romney In Making False Claims About National Security Leaks

From the podium tonight, Senator John McCain didn’t tell the truth when he claimed that the Obama Administration has purposefully leaked classified information. In the absence of any coherent foreign policy agenda, Mitt Romney has relied on that false claim. The truth is that the Obama Administration has forcefully pursued classified national security leaks, and the reporters responsible for some of the stories in question have rejected it as well.

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAS FORCEFULLY PURSUED CLASSIFIED NATIONAL SECURITY LEAKS

The Obama Administration Has Prosecuted Twice As Many Cases Under The Espionage Act As All Other Administrations Combined. “The same Obama administration that is under fire from critics for allegedly leaking classified information has used a 1917 law to target suspected leakers in twice as many cases as all previous presidential administrations combined. Under Obama, the Justice Department has prosecuted six cases under the Espionage Act in recent years; federal prosecutors had used the law in three cases before Obama took office.” [CNN, 6/7/12]

The Daily Beast: Equating The Obama Administration’s Record Level Of Leak Prosecutions With Hostility To Whistle-Blowers “Misstates The Facts.” “It is true the administration is setting records for the prosecution of those who leak classified national-security information, but equating this record with hostility to whistle-blowers misstates the facts. The difference between a leaker and a whistle-blower is important. Leaks of classified information can endanger American soldiers and intelligence officers and expose sensitive national-security programs to our enemies.” [The Daily Beast, 3/10/12]

REPORTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR RECENT STORIES ON CLASSIFIED PROGRAMS HAVE REJECTED CLAIMS OF CONTROLLED LEAKS FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

David Sanger: “All That You Read About This Being Deliberate Leaks Out Of The White House, It Wasn’t My Experience.” In an interview, Bob Schieffer asked “Let me ask you all something. I mean, when you were reporting on this story, did either of you ever get the idea that some of these officials were disclosing some of these things to you, to boost up the president`s reputation to make him appear tougher, that they were doing this and talking to you to counter this idea that he is a weak president and a weak leader?” David Sanger responded, “You know, in the case of Olympic games, I spent a year working the story from the bottom up, and then went to the administration and told them what I had. Then they had to make some decisions about how much they want to talk about it. All that you read about this being deliberate leaks out of the White House, it wasn`t my experience. Maybe it is in other cases.” [Face The Nation Transcript, CBS, 6/3/12]

David Sanger: “This is not something where someone from the White House calls you up and says, ‘Why don`t you drop by. We`ll tell you about our most compartmentalized program’…That doesn`t happen.” In an interview, Charlie Rose asked “People come to criticize not you, not the book but the fact that the Obama administration, according to Senator McCain from Singapore where he was attending a conference. Obama`s administration accused him of leaking details of a reported cyber attack on Iran and other secret operations to bolster the President`s image in election year.” David Sanger responded, “Look, I`m sure there are people on the political side of the White House who are perfectly happy to hear about the President sitting in The Situation Room calling on drone strikes or trying to figure out… --and choosing targets or-- or figuring out what kind of cyber weapons you could use. I can only tell you my experience, which was, this was a eighteen-month investigation that began after the Stuxnet virus, which we have discussed before. I pulled on that string. I worked from the bottom up. This is not something where someone from the White House calls you up and says, ‘Why don`t you drop by. We`ll tell you about our most compartmentalized program’…That doesn`t happen.” [CBS This Morning, 6/4/12]

Scott Shane: “The Notion That the White House Promoted The Story Or Controlled Our Reporting And Writing Is Absurd.” “We interviewed many current and former officials, trying to speak with people who had actually met with the president on these subjects. The White House agreed to some interview requests and nixed others. We spoke to people who had been given permission to talk and to others who had not. In other words, it was a completely normal reporting process, and the notion that the White House prompted the story or controlled our reporting and writing is absurd.” [Huffington Post, 6/6/12]