Investigation of the national security leaks that have emanated from the Obama Administration in recent months moved forward this morning, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson testified before a closed hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.
Within the military, Dempsey is a leading opponent of the administration's drive for more wars in the Middle East and, ultimately, thermonuclear confrontation with Russia. The leaks relating to the Osama bin Laden killing, and to Obama's personal role in the targeted killing campaign, as well as to the cyberwar campaign against Iran, provoked anger in the U.S. Congress, but a key point in the process was when Dempsey convinced Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that these leaks were extremely serious and needed to be investigated. Feinstein then went public with her concerns about the leaks, alongside House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Turner (R-Ohio). Their public statements triggered activity in other committees, including a House Judiciary letter to the White House this week, requesting to interview seven national security officials, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and his deputy among them.
The investigations have mostly remained behind closed doors, like yesterday morning's hearing, but committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and ranking Democrat Adam Smith (D-Wash.) did speak to reporters briefly, after the hearing concluded. McKeon said that "I feel pretty secure that the [recent spate of] national security leaks are not coming from the Pentagon." When asked if he thought they were coming from somewhere on Pennsylvania Ave., he laughed and refused to answer the question. He and Smith both indicated that they were concerned about the leaks, about the damage they might have caused, and what the Pentagon was doing to limit them. McKeon said that all three of the witnesses agreed that the leaks have caused damage, but that they didn't discuss details. He also indicated that Panetta had provided the committee with a classified document describing the measures that the department is taking to limit leaks, which he couldn't discuss, but said that the witnesses had promised to come back to the committee with an unclassified version.