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Why Washington springs leaks in election season

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“Obviously the notion that his White House would purposely release classified national information is ‘offensive’ is contradicted by the facts,” Senator McCain said. Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the Senate intelligence committee’s top-ranking Republican, said one covert action program revealed in Mr. Sanger’s book was so protected that it was news to the intelligence world’s congressional overseers.

“We as members of the Intelligence Committee can't even confirm whether these programs exist, and yet you have the national security adviser talking about a covert action program" to a reporter, Senator Chambliss said.

Republicans are not the only ones expressing concern. Even before Obama’s news conference, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that she was “deeply disturbed by the continuing leaks of classified information to the media.” She subsequently sent a letter to Obama charging that "disclosures of this type endanger American lives and undermine America’s national security.”

Even if the current leaks are to a greater extent than Republican lawmakers say they’ve ever seen, there are at least two other reasons they are receiving so much attention. 

First, as McCain said, “the professionals in the intelligence community, not the political appointees, are beside themselves.”

But professionals get incensed whenever their work gets leaked to the media, says Wayne White, a policy expert at the Middle East Policy Council with nearly three decades of experience in the US intelligence community. And that occurrence is hardly a rarity.

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