Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith's Letter to Obama: Request to Question Seven Top Officials on White House Leaks
July 17, 2012 • 10:24AM

On July 12, one day after a hearing by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, a letter was sent to Obama from Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, requesting that seven individuals be "made available for interviews" with the Committee. The seven are:

Thomas E. Donilon, National Security Advisor;

William M. Daley, former White House Chief of Staff;

Antony Blinken, National Security Advisor to VP Biden;

Denis R. McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor;

Audrey Tomason, Director for Counterterrorism;

John O. Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; and

James R. Clapper, Jr., Director of National Intelligence.

The letter tells Obama that at the July 11th hearing, "Ranking member John Conyers, Crime Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner, and I agreed to exercise the Committee's investigative capacities, including subpoenas if necessary, and compile lists of people within the Administration with whom the Committee should talk to discover the sources of the recent leaks and prevent further leaks in the future."

At the hearing itself, Rep. Conyers said in his opening statement: "This is a difficult matter, national security leaks and the law.... the Chair of this full committee wonders if self promotion played a role and if there were prominent members of the administration involved in the leaks.

"Well, that — that's what we are here to try to determine," Conyers said. "We can — we have our own investigative capacity and so why don't — why don't we inquire ourselves. We also have the regular power of subpoena if there's somebody he thinks we ought to talk to we should talk to them. If there's somebody that isn't cooperating with us in this investigation which is a legitimate subject for discussion, we should subpoena them."

However, when Sensenbrenner and Smith tried to press Conyers to draw up the list on the spot, Conyers backed off, and said this should have been discussed beforehand. Conyers also said that he wanted the hearings to investigate leaks from all previous administrations, not just the Obama administration.

Testifying to the Subcommittee, Rep. Smith zeroed in on Obama and the top echelons of the administration. "Recent leaks of highly classified information pose a serious threat to our national security and put the lives of Americans and out allies at risk," Smith said. "National security experts from both Republican and Democratic administrations have expressed outrage over the leaks and the effect they have on ongoing and future intelligence operations.

"What sets these leaks apart from other leaks we have seen is that the media reports that many of these have comes from highly-placed administration officials. If true, this means that administration officials are weakening our national security and endangering American lives."

Smith added that "the administration's track record is not encouraging," referencing the appointment of two US Attorneys.

This was the first of several planned hearings by Congress.