Republican lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are warning the Obama administration against leaking classified information as it seeks to bolster its national security bona fides in the wake of a deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that left four Americans dead.
The intelligence leaks could jeopardize American efforts to capture or kill those responsible for the raid that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the lawmakers wrote Friday in a letter to the Obama administration and its national security officials.
"We are troubled that administration officials appear to be publicly discussing classified matters, thereby potentially impeding the success of any action that may be taken against those responsible for the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack in Libya," write the lawmakers, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Free Beacon.
The lawmakers—among them Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R., Ga.), the committee’s vice chairman, Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), and James Risch (R., Idaho)—are responding to a recent report by the Associated Press that quotes several administration officials anonymously.
The article, which focused on administration efforts to respond to the Libya attack, quoted senior administration officials stating that special operations forces and unmanned drones have been put on standby, ready for a possible strike on those responsible for the Libya attack.
The authors of the congressional letter want to know whether the information is accurate and who leaked it.
"It seems counterintuitive to broadcast our intent to take action as that would certainly give those responsible for this terrorist attack a chance to use evasive measures," states the letter, which is also addressed to secretary of defense Leon Panetta, CIA director David Petraeus, and national security adviser Thomas Donilon.
"We request that you inform the Senate Intelligence Committee and other relevant intelligence committees whether the information described in the AP article is true and was authorized for disclosure to the press," the lawmakers write.
They go on to demand that the administration detail "the specific reason for the disclosure" and the "identity of the individual who authorized it."
The senators recommend that those who leaked the information be identified and referred for "criminal prosecution."
The most recent national security leaks are part of a disturbing a trend in the Obama administration, the lawmakers write.
The White House came under fire earlier for leaking to the press highly classified details of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Critics speculated the Obama administration was revealing details in a bid to score political points by bolstering its national security credentials with voters.
"There are far too many disclosures of classified information appearing in the media, disclosures that not only compromise our intelligence sources and methods but can significantly impact important liaison relationships," the lawmakers write in their letter to the president.
Given the severity and sensitivity of the leaks, the senators ask that administration officials "be made immediately available" to the committee to answer questions regarding potential fallout.