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A group of Republican senators is demanding to know why the White House continues to leak to the press highly classified information that “stands in direct contradiction to the information briefed to congressional oversight committees,” according to a letter sent Friday to President Barack Obama.
Senior Obama administration officials have taken to the press in recent weeks to provide anonymous and often highly classified information to reporters in an effort to bolster the president’s national security credentials following a deadly attack in Libya that left four Americans dead, the lawmakers claim.
“We are resigned to the fact that in these waning days of the campaign season and in the shadow of the Benghazi terrorist attacks—for which there are still too many unanswered questions—members of your administration are not only discussing highly classified matters with reporters, but are perceived to be engaging in such activity for the purpose of bolstering your national security credentials,” the letter states, according to a copy obtained by the Free Beacon.
The senators, all of them members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, point to a recent Washington Post story that quotes an array of senior administration officials. The article claims—contrary to several other reports—that the “CIA rushed to save diplomats as [the] Libya attack was underway.”
“We find it reprehensible that information in the article was provided to the press before to Congress, and in some cases, the information stands in direct contradiction to the information briefed to congressional oversight committees,” wrote the Republican lawmakers who include Sens. Roy Blunt (Miss.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Dan Coats (Ind.), and James Risch (Idaho).
The Post report paints a drastically different portrait of the administration’s response to the September 11, 2012, attack by militants in Benghazi.
Citing anonymous administration officials, the report claims CIA operatives reached the besieged embassy within “25 minutes” and played a “central role” in combatting the armed terrorists.
Previous reports, however, suggested that the White House called off operational forces and delayed their response.
The senators demand to know if the leaks were authorized by a White House clambering to salvage the president’s image.
“We write today to ask if these disclosures were authorized, and if so, who authorized them and for what purpose,” the letter states. “If they were in fact leaks and not authorized disclosures, what steps is your administration taking to find and prosecute those responsible?”
Citing the “unprecedented number of leaks” to have emanated from the Obama administration, the senators suggest that an “independent investigator” be appointed to investigate the disclosures.
“Appointing a Special Prosecutor would remove even the appearance of political influence,” the lawmakers write.