US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] appointed two US Attorneys [press release] on Friday to investigate recent "leaks" of classified information. The investigation will run concurrently with an FBI investigation, and the US Attorneys are empowered to prosecute any suspects as they see fit. The classified information, which was reported in the New York Times [media website] late last week, detailed offensive initiatives taken by US President Barack Obama, including drone strikes in the Middle East and a "cyber-attack" against Iranian nuclear facilities with the Stuxnet virus [NYT reports]. Due to both of the initiatives' success, some have speculated that the White House orchestrated the leaks to spotlight administration achievements. Indeed, reports indicate that the stories could not have been published without the White House's knowledge [Gawker report]. A spokesperson for the White House denied this allegation [press briefing transcript] last week, stating, "I am telling you that this administration—well, that it's our view, as it is the view of everybody who handles classified information, that information is classified for a reason; that it is kept secret, it is intended not to be publicized because publicizing it would pose a threat to our national security."
The Obama administration has previously prosecuted leaks of classified information. The most notable instance being the case of Pfc. Bradley Manning [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] and his alleged part in transferring classified information to Wikileaks [website; JURIST news archive]. Earlier this week, a judge denied a motion to dismiss eight of the 22 charges [JURIST report] against Manning. JURIST Guest Columnist Ashley Savage argued that in light of recent leaks to the media and through the Internet, there must be more robust protections for whistleblowers [JURIST op-ed] and more effective systems for addressing their concerns internally.