Chairman King Calls on President Obama to Identify White House Staff Who May Have Leaked Intelligence on Benghazi Attack to Journalist

Nov 5, 2012 Issues: Counterterrorism

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called on President Obama to identify White House staff members who may have unlawfully disclosed intelligence on the Benghazi attack to journalist Leslie Gelb.  Last month Dr. Gelb claimed to have received a White House intelligence briefing on the attack. 

But today Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus denied that Dr. Gelb received any such briefing from their agencies, and announced a preliminary inquiry into this possibly criminal disclosure of classified information.

In response to today’s letter, Chairman King said: “I welcome Directors Clapper and Petraeus’ initiation of an inquiry into yet another Obama Administration leak of sensitive national security information to the mediaIf the Intelligence Community did not brief Leslie Gelb on classified information about the Benghazi attack, then who did?  I call upon the White House to immediately identify any staff members who may have met with Dr. Gelb since September 11, 2012.

On October 8th, Dr. Gelb wrote in The Daily Beast that he received a White House intelligence briefing on the September 11, 2012 attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi.  Dr. Gelb stated he received the same intelligence briefing on the subject as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, which was itself derived from the President’s Daily Brief.  Dr. Gelb claimed that the initial “daily intel reports” reviewed by himself, Ambassador Rice and President Obama confirmed “that the Benghazi mob formed more or less on its own, mainly in reaction to the American video cartooning sacred Muslim figures.”

That same day, Chairman King wrote to Director of National Intelligence Clapper and CIA Director Petraeus to express his deep concern over this latest damaging leak of sensitive intelligence to the media.  Chairman King asked Directors Clapper and Petraeus whether any member of the Obama Administration or the Intelligence Community had provided Dr. Gelb any intelligence briefings, and if so, whether these disclosures were authorized.  Chairman King further requested that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) and CIA investigate Dr. Gelb’s claims.

Today, Directors Clapper and Petraeus confirmed that they shared Chairman King’s concern “over the damage caused by leaks to the media”, and stated that they viewed Dr. Gelb’s claim as “a very serious matter.”  Directors Clapper and Petraeus stated that neither the ODNI nor CIA had provided Dr. Gelb any such briefings, and they agreed to launch a preliminary inquiry into this possible unauthorized disclosure of classified information to the media, which may result in a criminal referral to the Justice Department.

Visitor logs show that Dr. Gelb has visited the Obama White House at least five times to meet with senior National Security Council officials.  White House visitor logs for the period of September 11 - October 8, 2012 have not yet been released.

Chairman King’s signed letter to Directors Clapper and Petraeus is available HERE.

Director Clapper’s signed letter to Chairman King is available HERE.