On Monday, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said at the World Affairs Council that the White House appears to be responsible for leaking classified national security information to reporters. Republicans have also alleged senior White House advisers have leaked national security secrets -- tipping off reporters of a computer virus that had been used to disable an Iranian nuclear weapons facility, for instance -- to help President Barack Obama’s image.
‘‘I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Feinstein said.
Mitt Romney, in remarks to the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention on Tuesday in Reno, Nevada cited Feinstein’s words in calling the national security leaks “contemptible.”
Immediately after Romney's speech, Feinstein was forced to walk back her comments, most likely under pressure from the Obama campaign. She immediately released this carefully-worded statement:
I am disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council.
I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn’t have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don’t know the source of the leaks.
I’m on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly.
I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone.
The Romney campaign immediately responded by saying Feinstein had received the “Cory Booker treatment,” in reference to the Newark, New Jersey mayor who had to also walk back his comments he made on NBC's "Meet The Press" in which he said the Obama campaign’s attacks on private equity were “nauseating.”
“It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the Cory Booker treatment,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House. Today, she was forced to walk it back. As Governor Romney said today, we need a leader who will take responsibility and immediately halt these security breaches before more American lives are put in danger.”