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Why Won't The Department of Justice Appoint a Special Prosecutor for National Security Leaks?

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"I don't believe that it would be necessary in this case, no."

James Cole

A recent string of leaks from the White House involving highly classified, highly sensitive material regarding United States foreign policy has led to outrage on the part of the public and the press, as well as dueling accusations between members of Congress and the administration.

The most notable leaks thus far were both sent to the New York Times, and included information regarding a "secret kill list" maintained by the White House, and also information that revealed that the administration had secretly launched cyber-attacks against Iran's nuclear facilities. So dangerous and sensitive are the leaks that the FBI has been called in to investigate the situation. This move, however, has not stopped a steady stream of bipartisan condemnation from members of Congress, where everyone from Republican Saxby Chambliss of Georgia to Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California have aggressively condemned the leaks and called for the head of whoever is responsible.

Yet mysteriously, the Obama Department of Justice seems to be less than happy with the idea of aggressively prosecuting this problem. At least, judging by what Deputy Attorney General James Cole said a hearing today, that seems to be the takeaway, since Cole has preemptively ruled out bringing in a special prosecutor to investigate. UPI reports:

During Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole's appearance Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee on another matter, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, asked him if a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate a recent series of leaks that possibly emanated from the White House, Roll Call reported.

"I don't believe that it would be necessary in this case, no," Cole responded.

The deputy attorney general said, however, it is illegal for a government employee to provide classified information to reporters.

"It troubles me that anybody who has classified information, and lawfully has it, would then disclose it in violation of their duties to keep that classified information secret," Cole said.

As you can see from the following video, Cornyn was incredulous at this apparently blase response:

There has been, to date, no explanation for why this decision was made. In fact, considering that Deputy Attorney General Cole himself acknowledged that leaks of this kind are criminal acts, it seems common sensical for a Special Prosecutor to be brought in, or at least for the Department of Justice to investigate. However, Cole declined to say whether the Department of Justice would be involved at all. It's possible that this springs from an earnest desire not to step on the toes of other organizations, like the FBI, but given that the Justice Department is the highest legal authority in the Executive Branch, it still should raise a few eyebrows.

 

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