A New York Times report which revealed that the Stuxnet worm was part of a joint U.S.-Israel effort to sabotage computers which control Iran's nuclear enrichment facilities led to bitter exchange between GOP lawmakers and the White House on Wednesday.
The FBI has already launched a criminal investigation into the leaks, and California Senator Dianne Feinstein, Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee urged holding a joint hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee to probe the leaks.
Arizona Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain, has accused Obama administration officials of leaking the confidential and highly sensitive information in order to boost his national security credentials ahead of the November elections, and “paint a portrait of the president of the United States as a strong leader.”
Senator Saxby Chambliss, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Tuesday that "with each leak, our allies are left to wonder how much they can trust us with their secrets. Some in the administration have decided that scoring political points in an election year outweighs intelligence operations.”
This is not the first time lawmakers have expressed their concern over leaking sensitive information to journalist. In late April, 21 members of Congress sent a letter to Obama, calling on him to order an investigation into possible leaks of sensitive information following two articles - one depicting scenarios and conclusions of a classified war simulation conducted by the U.S. Central Command, aimed to predict possible outcome of an Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, while the other a Foreign Policy magazine piece revealing that Israel had been granted secret access to airbases in Azerbaijan near Iran’s northern border, which would be used to launch strikes in the event of an Israeli operation against Iran.
These leaks were interpreted as an attempt to put pressure on Israel and prevent it from attacking Iran's nuclear facilities. In the letter, congressmen argued that the leaks undermine American national security, as well as Israel’s “ability to defend itself against the multitude of threats that seek to jeopardize Israel’s sovereignty and destabilize the region."
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