L.I. GOP Rep. Pete King: FBI needs to expand its ‘leak’ probe to include a story this week that exposed President Obama’s ‘secret’ approval of covert support for Syria’s opposition movement

Aug 3, 2012 Issues: Counterterrorism

'Obviously the ongoing investigations have failed to deter further leaks,' King railed, citing a continued threat to members of the U.S. armed services

NY Daily News -- by Joseph Straw

WASHINGTON — Rep. Pete King wants the Justice Department probe into leaks of sensitive national security intel to include a story on “secret” U.S. efforts to overthrow Syria’s strongman.

Reuters cited anonymous U.S. sources in reporting Wednesday that President Obama signed an order authorizing covert activity in the region. The piece also named the location of a “nerve center” in Turkey, where the U.S. and allies coordinate activity.

“Obviously, the ongoing investigations have failed to deter further leaks,” King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, wrote Thursday in a letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller.

The Long Island Republican added the leaks must come to and end before those responsible “further endanger the lives of men and women sent into harm’s way on our nation’s behalf.”

The federal probe was launched due to a chorus of complaints over government leaks that spurred a host of recent blockbuster stories. King’s ire over the epidemic of loose lips boiled over last year with word that the Pentagon and CIA were collaborating on a Hollywood movie about the commando raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.

Then this spring came a trio of articles, two in the New York Times and a third in The Daily Beast, that offered a fly-on-the wall view of President Obama’s deliberations over counterterror drone strikes and cyber warfare waged against Iran’s nuclear program.

And a Times story attributed the mysterious Stuxnet computer virus to the U.S. directly.

Many within the GOP, including its 2008 presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who is a Navy veteran, suggested the leaks were politically calculated by the White House to bolster Obama’s national security bona fides ahead of the election.

This year’s presumptive Republican nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, has joined in the criticism.

King first wrote to Mueller on May 21 to request an investigation.

In June, Mueller’s boss, Attorney General Eric Holder, assigned two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, despite Republican calls for an independent special prosecutor.

Legislation passed last month by the Senate Intelligence Committee would allow intelligence community officials to revoke the pensions of officers who disclose classified information.

Currently, leakers must be convicted in criminal court to lose their pensions.

The press has, in general, been critical of the bill, as has a consortium of 25 open government and civil liberties groups that wrote senators urging them to oppose the provisions.

The legislation “is not an anti-leaks policy, it’s an anti-speech policy,” the letter states.

“This policy does not protect our nation’s legitimate secrets, but instead opens the door to abuse and chills critical disclosures of wrongdoing,” the groups said collectively.