Lieberman calls for special counsel to probe leaks

Liz Lynch/National Journal file photo

A special counsel should investigate leaks of national security secrets to avoid an appearance of a conflict of interest, Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., said on Sunday.

“Counsels, independent counsels, were created for a situation like this, where people might reach a conclusion that investigators, U.S. attorneys -- even working for the attorney general, who was appointed by the president -- cannot independently and without bias investigate high officials of their own government,” said Lieberman.

"I've been thinking about this since these leaks came out and I've reached a conclusion which is that we do need a special counsel," said Lieberman, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Operations Committee, on Fox News Sunday.

Published details of what are described as U.S. cyberattacks on computer systems that run Iran’s main nuclear enrichment facilities have prompted outrage over on Capitol Hill among members on both sides of the aisle. In response, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations into the possible leaking of state secrets.

Lieberman said, “I have no reason to distrust or disrespect either of these U.S. attorneys.” But he joined Republicans in noting that one of them -- Ronald C. Machen Jr., the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia -- gave a contribution to Obama. "No matter what he concludes, people are going to say it was biased,” Lieberman said.

Appearing earlier on the same show, White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe said an investigation has been announced. “Why not let the investigation proceed?” he asked.

He again denied any notion that the White House would purposely release classified security information, calling that “offensive.” He said the president’s national security team will cooperate with the investigation, but deflected questions on whether Obama himself would agree to be interviewed.

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