"I don't think they should have published it," McCain said. "I think we should go after the leakers first, but if the New York Times [thought] the story was inconsequential, the legitimate question is, why was it on the front page?"
Feinstein's criticism was more nuanced, saying, "I, in a way, wish they hadn't [published the story] but that's not my job to say."
But, Feinstein, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, criticized the Bush administration for not telling Congress about the program earlier. Feinstein confirmed the administration came to Congress only when the story seemed imminent.
"That's when and why they came and briefed us," she said.
Feinstein reserved her sharpest criticism for the Bush administration's national security team saying, "I think the time has come to involve a very different strategy, and I don't think it cane be done under this Pentagon."
Feinstein asserted it was time to "change the team, look for a new strategy," expressing doubts about the president's policy in Iraq when saying, "I'm very concerned that Iraq is in the middle of a civil war and I don't see it turning."
As the Senate heads into its Fourth of July recess, both senators commented on a number of political issues that have passed before the Senate and may appear again before the November elections. McCain continued to express optimism that an immigration compromise might be found, admitting, "To be gridlocked would not improve our standing with the American people or our base."
McCain joked that his bipartisan approach, which has been taken up in the House more as a political tactic than for serious debate, might have better success if called "the Bush bill." Opponents have taken to calling the measure the Reid-Kennedy bill, removing their Republican colleague from any identification with it.
McCain and Feinstein both supported last week's efforts to pass a Constitutional amendment banning flag burning. Feinstein, one of several Democrats who edged the bill within one vote of passage, defended her position.
"It all depends on whether you view this as conduct or expression, [and] I think burning the flag is conduct," Feinstein said.
On minimum wage, potentially the next hot-button issue for the Senate when it returns, McCain scoffed at Democratic threats to hold up an automatic $3,300 Congressional pay raise until an increase in the minimum wage succeeds.
"I'm against the way we do the pay raises anyway," he said. "[Republicans] have a proposal on the minimum wage. It just gives some protections to small businesses."
McCain, known for his battles against excess government spending, couldn't resist telling Stephanopoulos, "I've forgone the pay raise for many, many years -- sometimes to the dismay of my family."