Of course, there is a way that Obama and his surrogates could speak openly about the drone program, or the Iran and Yemen leaks that are apparently the subjects of the investigation.
They could declassify it.
Some Obama defenders have gone so far as to speculate that if his White House had anything to do with the aforementioned articles in the press, perhaps the leaked information had been quietly declassified. On Sunday, Wallace managed to get a high-ranking Obama Administration official to say otherwise.
WALLACE: The president can declassify any information, any classified information that he wants. Simple question, did the president or any other top official declassify any of the information that appeared in these articles?
PLOUFFE: Well, the president was very clear about this, Chris, in that interview, that he has zero tolerance for this kind of national security leak. There has now been by the attorney general, two United States attorneys appointed to investigate this, including a Bush appointee. We take this seriously, as anything can be taken. No one more than the president relies on this information to make good decisions and keep this country safe. I believe the person who wrote the book in question has said that no one in the White House provide this information. We need a thorough investigation --
WALLACE: No, he has not said that. David Sanger said that, in fact, he did talk to top White House officials. He said it wasn't leaks. That he's been investigating a -- he did not say that, he, in fact, said he did talk to people in the White House.
PLOUFFE: Well, for the book, sure. He's a prominent national security reporter, obviously, who is writing about these important issues facing the country. But there's going to be a very thorough investigation. The attorney general spoke to us. Two United States attorneys will look under every rock here. This ought to be investigated as thoroughly as anything can, and we ought to wait for the results of that investigation.
WALLACE: But I do want to ask you, because you didn't answer my direction question. Did the president or any other top official declassify any of the information that appeared in these articles?
PLOUFFE: No, the president and his national security team -- first of all, these are the folks who waged just a relentless and effective effort against al Qaeda and its leadership. We decimated most of the top leadership including bin Laden. This national security information is so critical for the president and his administration to make the right decision. Nobody takes it more seriously than the president of the United States.
WALLACE: Forgive me, sir. It's a yes or no. Did the president declassify any of this information?
PLOUFFE: No, of course, he didn't. Of course, he didn't.
WALLACE: He did not?
Also note a subsequent exchange where Wallace asks how thoroughly Obama is willing to cooperate with an investigation:
WALLACE: Back in the Valerie Plame investigation in
2003, President Bush ordered any and all members of the administration
who knew anything about the outing of Valerie Plame to come forward.
Has President Obama made that same kind of order to all of you?
PLOUFFE: Well, everyone is obviously going to
participate in the investigation. You've got, again, two United States
attorneys that have been appointed by the attorney general of the United
States, who are going to look thoroughly into this. They're going to
talk to anybody they want to --
WALLACE: Has the president ordered his staff to come forward?
PLOUFFE: Obviously, everyone is going to participate in the investigation.
WALLACE: Let me ask you, you say everyone is going
to participate in the investigation. Back in the Valerie Plame case,
President Bush agreed to and sat down for thorough interrogation by
federal prosecutors. Will President Obama sit down to be interrogated by
the prosecutor in this case?
PLOUFFE: Listen, Chris, I'm not going to get into
that right now. The question is, this investigation should be treated
seriously. This is --
WALLACE: Why not say yes if he's asked?
PLOUFFE: Chris, I'm not running the investigation,
OK? We've got career law enforcement professionals and prosecutors who
are going to aggressively look into this. The president and
administration want this investigation to be as thorough as possible.
WALLACE: But will the president cooperate including --
PLOUFFE: I'm not going to answer his particular
involvement right now, Chris, OK? The point is, everyone in our
administration and I think this probably goes with the agencies as well,
of course, is going to cooperate with the investigation.
A bit later on the same program, Senator Joe Lieberman called for an independent investigator in the case:
LIEBERMAN: Chris, I've been thinking about this
since these leaks came out. And I reached a conclusion, which is that we
do need a special counsel and we need a special counsel because special
counsel avoids any appearance of conflict of interest. Special
counsels, independent counsels, were created for a situation like this,
where people might reach a conclusion that investigators, U.S. attorneys
even, working for the attorney general, who was appointed by the
president, cannot independently and without bias investigate high
officials of their own government.WALLACE: So you are saying the U.S. attorneys that
have been appointed by General Holder, Attorney General Holder, not
enough special prosecutor.
LIEBERMAN: Yeah, not enough. And I have no reason to
distrust or disrespect either of these U.S. attorneys. But here we got
one gentleman who gave a contribution to President Obama. No matter what
he concludes, people are going to say it was biased.