Published: July 24, 2012
Mitt Romney accused the Obama administration Tuesday of leaking sensitive security information for “political advantage,” calling for a “full and prompt” investigation after a top Democrat said the White House appears to be responsible for some of the leaks.
Romney seized on a comment Monday from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee: “I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” the senator told a World Affairs Council forum.
The California lawmaker said she was certain that Obama, who receives a daily intelligence briefing, isn’t disclosing secret information, but she was uncertain about others at the White House.
Romney, in prepared remarks for a speech Tuesday afternoon to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said whoever is responsible needs to be “exposed, dismissed, and punished.”
The Republican presidential candidate is drawing new attention to the leak controversy ahead of an overseas trip to Britain, Israel and Poland. His speech to the VFW comes one day after Obama addressed the same group.
Romney, in the prepared remarks, called the leaks a “national security crisis.”
“This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation, with explanation and consequence,” Romney said. ”Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed and punished. The time for stonewalling is over.”
Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two attorneys to lead the investigation into who leaked information about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and about an Al Qaeda plot to place an explosive device aboard a U.S.-bound airliner.
Romney, who also complained about the details that flowed out of Washington following the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, said the administration cannot wait until after Election Day to investigate.
“Exactly who in the White House betrayed these secrets? Did a superior authorize it? These are things that Americans are entitled to know,” Romney said. “And let me be clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain? I’ll tell you right now: Mine won’t.”
The administration has pushed back on the idea that anyone in the White House was involved in the leaks.
Obama also stressed his commitment to America’s security during his address to the VFW on Monday. The president reminded the audience that he made good on his promise to find and kill Usama bin Laden, and he vowed more job-finding and professional help for returning veterans.
Obama also claimed Republicans are working against the military’s interest by pushing for tax cut extensions for top earners — suggesting that will exacerbate the deficit, in turn allowing automatic spending cuts for the Pentagon to kick in.
“Instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they’d rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest Americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military. And I’ve got to tell you, VFW, I disagree,” Obama said.
But Romney, in his prepared remarks, said if elected president he will not allow the defense cuts to take place.
“Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats,” he said. “These cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. I will not allow that to happen.”
Romney also took an implicit swipe at Obama’s posture overseas, describing himself as an “unapologetic believer in the greatness of this country.”
“I am not ashamed of American power,” Romney said. “I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. … This century must be an American Century.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.