In an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General Eric Holder dismissed Republican calls for a special counsel outside of the Justice Department to investigate a spate of recent leaks. GOP politicians such as Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) have accused the White House of illegally and irresponsibly authorizing the disclosure of classified information on the government's counterterrorism efforts, targeted killings, and cyberattacks against Iran in an effort to score political points and bolster the president's national security credentials. President Barack Obama, for his part, has called such allegations "offensive" and "wrong."
Holder has assigned two U.S. attorneys to probe the recent national security leaks. "And the charge that I've given them is to follow the leads wherever they are," he told the committee, "in the executive branch or some other component of government."
The scope of the Justice Department's investigation remains unclear, perhaps, as the New York Times suggests, because revealing which leaks are the focus of the probe "would implicitly confirm that certain reports contained accurate classified information." (Some have predicted that the investigation will focus less on drone strikes and more on the cyberattacks against Iran and an Associated Press report in May on a foiled bomb plot by al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate.)
But the texts at the heart of the current debate -- a New York Times article by David Sanger (based on a new book), another New York Times article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, and a Newsweek article by Daniel Klaidman (also based on a new book) -- have all come out within the last two weeks, creating a kind of tipping point of juicy leaks that has stoked outrage among pundits and lawmakers. If Holder wants his investigators to truly follow every lead, these three studies of Obama's national security policies are a good place to start -- particularly the key sections highlighted below.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images