The Obama administration assured reporters at the China summit in Palm Springs on Saturday afternoon that they were busy getting to the bottom of the latest controversy in which it was revealed that millions of Americans phone records were being accessed by the NSA and operation PRISM was snooping on web browsing and email communications.
That is, the administration is determined to bust whoever leaked the information about the programs to the Guardian and Washington Post, respectively.
“What we’re focused on doing right now, and you’ve seen this in the DNI statement, is, frankly, doing an assessment of the damage that is being done to U.S. national security by the revelation of this information, which is necessarily secret because the United States needs to be able to conduct intelligence activities without those methods being revealed to the world,” foreign policy speechwriter and deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes told the media at a joint press conference with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
The White House tried to keep the focus on the meeting of President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, but reporters were anxious for a chance to ask the national security team about the FISA case. And administration officials made clear that the man embroiled in another scandal over stifling press freedom by seizing the AP’s phone records and labeling Fox News correspondent James Rosen a co-conspirator will be key in a probe of the surveillance program leaks.
“So currently there’s a review underway, of course, to understand what potential damage may be done. As it relates to any potential investigations, we’re still in the early stages of this,” Rhodes continued.
“Obviously the Justice Department would have to be involved in that. So this is something that I think will be addressed in the coming days by the Justice Department of the intelligence community in consultation with the full interagency that’s been affected by these very disturbing leaks of national security information,” he added.