msnbc | June 10, 2012
>>> welcome back to "weekends with alex witt ." fresh reaction today to the national security league scandal. senator john mccain is taking shots at attorney general eric holder who just appointed two federal prosecutors to lead the investigation.
>> first of all, mr. holder's credibility with congress is -- there is none. as you know, we continue to have this problem with him withholding information on fast and furious , which resulted in the killing of a border patrol agent in arizona. he is close to being held in contempt. there is no credibility.
>> covering the investigation for the " washington post " is national intelligence reporter greg miller . greg, thanks for joining us.
>> sure, alex.
>> first up, your reaction to senator mccain 's comments. what are they?
>> it just underscores the political tensions that are really underneath a lot of this concern over the leagues. of course, there are plenty of democrats who voiced a lot of concern over these leaks as well, but it's also a big concern for republicans who have accused the add manipulation ministratio n of using the leaks to call attention to president obama 's accomplishments in an election year.
>> do you think this is a bigger political issue, or does this do more damage to national security ?
>> i think it's both. i do believe there is -- that, you know, it's not in my interest to say so as a reporter who covers the cia and other agencies, but you do hear that there are -- you know, these intelligence services rely on partnerships in foreign countries, and they're often aghast at what goes record ported in the united states . but at the same time, i think this administration has been under a lot of pressure in the last few years to disclose more about what it does. it's been running a targeted killing program with armed drones for a number of years now, and it has faced pressure to reveal more about how those sdig decisions, those lethal decisions, are made.
>> greg, clearly given the content, it appears these came from a high ranking source. is there any indication of which body of the government it came from, be it the white house , congress or the intelligence communities?
>> well, i think it depends on what you're looking at here, because the concern over these leaks is cumulative, and it's been building for, you know, a couple of years with this administration dating back probably to really intensified with the raid that led to the death of osama bin laden , and then it turned out there were agreements to cooperate with a hollywood production team that was putting together a movie on that subject. now, some of the more recent stories, if you read through them, you'll see references to anonymous sources who are nevertheless identified as senior aides to obama, officials who would participate in meetings in the situation room inside the white house , so most cia people don't fall in that category.
>> yeah. well, most investigators will look at something and say, well, who benefits the most from information that's put out there? is there any general community that the overall picture presents there who benefits from this?
>> well, i mean, in this case you're seeing the republicans argue that this administration benefits from a number of these recent stories because it makes obama look very aggressive and muscular on national security . but, you know, there are -- the list expands from there, of course, if you're talking about the bin laden raid, that's brought a lot of attention to the special forces community, to the cia , and the director of the cia at the time, leon panetta , has appeared on a number of news programs to talk about the success of that operation. so when things go right in the national security world, and in particular in the intelligence world, there are no shortage of people who usually line up to take some credit.
>> yeah. how difficult is it for investigators to track down the source of an intelligence leak? what are the huge problems and hurdles they have to overcome?
>> i would say it's very difficult because just based on the history of this, there have been not very many leaks investigations and only a small number of those have been successful. but it would also say that it's getting easier, unfortunately, for reporters like myself, it is getting easier, and that's in part because of technology. so communications via e-mail the government can recover by getting those communications from internet service provider . it doesn't have to go to battle with a lawyer from the " washington post ," for example, over notebooks or something. they haven't been very successful. it's very difficult because most of these stories involve multiple, multiple sources, but it is somehow getting easier which explains why this administration has brought a record number of leaks cases.
>> bottom line, do you think we'll find out who leaked them?
>> no, i don't.
>> really. okay.
>> i don't think so.
>> we will look and see if you are right or wrong, but nonetheless, you will be back with us. thank