National security leaks: Attorney General Eric Holder appoints prosecutors to investigate


US Attorney General Eric Holder testifies during a hearing on the oversight of the Justice Department before the House Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC, on Dec. 8, 2011.


Alex Wong

Two US attorneys will lead criminal investigations into how government secrets were leaked to the press, Attorney General Eric Holder has announced. 

According to the Associated Press, they will take over the existing FBI investigations, which were ordered last month when classified information including details of US cyberattacks on Iran and a presidential "kill list" appeared in news reports.

President Barack Obama's critics have accused the White House of disclosing the information, in what they claim is an effort to portray Obama as powerful and boost his chances of re-election.

More from GlobalPost: Obama ordered cyberattacks on Iran, says New York Times

Leaks can compromise national security and "will not be tolerated," Holder said. 

He has appointed Ronald Machen and Rod Rosenstein, US attorneys for the District of Colombia and the District of Maryland respectively, to lead the two separate probes, the AP reported.

They are authorized to follow up all relevant leads within the executive and legislative branches of government, according to the New York Times, which published several of the revelations in question.

The Times noted that the Justice Department did not specify which leaks are under investigation, "apparently because doing so would implicitly confirm that certain reports contained accurate classified information."

More from GlobalPost: Obama's counterterrorism strategy: New York Times buries the lead

Several members of Congress, notably Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), have called for the appointment of a special counsel to head the inquiry, the Washington Post reported. In a joint statement last night, McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the appointment of two US attorneys fell "far short of what is needed."

Obama has dismissed as "offensive" the suggestion that the information came from the White House. He said yesterday that those behind the leaks would "suffer consequences."