Whether he intended to or not, Adm. William McRaven, the chief of US Special Operations Command, has jacked up the pressure on the White House over the national security leaks scandal. During an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer at the annual Aspen Institute security conference on Wednesday, McRaven said, with regard to leaks relating to the Osama bin Laden raid, "we go to great lengths" to protect sources and methods (the two primary reasons for classifying information) but "Unfortunately, not everybody guards it carefully." He went on to say everybody, including President Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the Congress are all taking the matter seriously, "and we need to do the best we can to clamp down on it, because sooner or later, it is going to cost people their lives or cost us our national security."
House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) apparently took McRaven's comments as the signal to push the White House harder on the investigation into high priority leaks. In a statement issued the same day as McRaven's interview, Rogers said "There are significant questions about the role of the White House with regard to the widespread disclosure of sensitive national security information. I have had serious doubts about the ability of the Executive Branch to investigate itself, but at a minimum, to restore confidence that the White House is not politicizing intelligence, it should immediately explain whether and how it is fully cooperating with the DoJ investigation." Full cooperation, Rogers explained, means submitting to interview and surrendering all documents that reveal contact with the reporters in question. "Afterall," Rogers noted, "it was the White House that rejected calls for a special prosecutor claiming it was unnecessary due to the appointment of U.S. Attorneys. The burden is on the White House to explain how they are fully cooperating with that investigation."
House Speaker John Boehner said he agrees with McRaven. "We have put lives in danger," he told Fox News on Thursday.
The White House response, as shown by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney at the Thursday briefing with reporters, was to freak out. "The president takes this very seriously," Carney said. "We all take this very seriously. It is, again, an insult and preposterous to suggest that this White House would leak information for political gain. That did not happen and would not happen under this president."