Under fire over detailed media reports about top secret national security projects, the White House on Wednesday hit back at Republican Senator John McCain's charge that the leaks sprang from "the highest levels of the White House" to help President Barack Obama's political fortunes.
"Any suggestion that this Administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible," spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.
His comments came after McCain charged Tuesday on the Senate floor that the leaks were part of an "Administration effort to paint a portrait of President Obama as a strong leader on national security issues." McCain repeated that allegation Wednesday on CBS's "This Morning" that "This is the most highly classified information and has now been leaked by the administration at the highest levels of the White House." At issue, notably, were a pair of New York Times articles — one detailing how Obama ordered a cyberattack on Iran's nuclear program, another describing the president's central role in deciding when to target individuals for assassination.
"This Administration takes all appropriate and necessary steps to prevent leaks of classified information or sensitive information that could risk ongoing counter-terrorism or intelligence operations," Carney said.