Key Democrat suggests some in White House leaked national secrets

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday that the White House appears to be responsible for some leaks of classified information.

“I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a World Affairs Council forum.

The California lawmaker said she was certain that President Barack Obama, who receives a daily intelligence briefing, isn’t disclosing secret information, but she was uncertain about others at the White House.

“I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it,” she said.

Republicans have criticized the disclosures, arguing that members of the Obama administration were intentionally leaking classified material to enhance the president’s reputation in an election year.

Last Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified in closed session before the House Armed Services Committee on the leaks.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., told reporters afterward that he did not believe the Pentagon was responsible for recent national security leaks.

“I feel pretty secure they were not” from the Pentagon, McKeon said after the three-hour hearing.

Separately, the Pentagon announced that it was taking new steps to try to clamp down on leaks of classified information, saying unauthorized disclosures undermine national security and in some cases rise to the level of criminal acts.

Feinstein said her committee would meet Tuesday to craft legislation that would address the leaks of classified information, including additional authorities and rules to stop the leaks.

Her comments came as U.S. officials said the number of people with access to some of the nation’s most carefully guarded secrets topped 4.86 million in 2011.

That’s up from 4.7 million people granted security clearances the year before, likely reflecting new hires approved by Congress as part of expanded clandestine operations in the Obama administration.

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