Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t like the idea of a special prosecutor being appointed to investigate the recent leaks of national security information because they “don’t report to anybody.”
“I worry about a lot of special prosecutors,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren Thursday night. “You know, they get unlimited budgets — they can go on forever — they don’t report to anybody.”
“And in our system,” he said, “I think being able to hold someone accountable other than a special prosecutor is not a bad idea.”
Rumsfeld said he was in no position “to second guess” the appointment of two Justice Department lawyers to handle the inquiry into whether Obama administration officials leaked information about the targeting of al-Qaida operatives and U.S. efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.
But he said: “If that’s the case . . . it seems to me it has to be somebody that the Republicans and the Democrats in the House and Senate who are concerned about this, and with good reason, ought to be able to nod and say, ‘Fair enough, those people will do a decent job.’”
Rumsfeld called the leaks “quite serious” and said it could be some time before the full extent of any fallout from them is known. He said he worries most about the effect they could have on intelligence operations with other countries.
“When they see a behavior pattern, where we are not responsible and don’t behave properly with respect to important information that they gives us, they’re going to not want to cooperate with us,” he said. “And if you have countries backing away, unwilling to cooperate, America loses and the American people lose. The same thing with individuals. . . . So it’s a serious problem.”
Asked about the recent leaks to a New York Times reporter alleging a U.S. cyberattack aimed at disrupting Iran’s nuclear program, Rumsfeld suggested he was uncomfortable talking about it in public because “there’s no question but that countries are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, including the United States.”
“If you think of the extent to which we’ve thrown away the shoeboxes with the three-by-five cards, or the old IBM cards with the punches in them, and are dependent on digits. There’s our vulnerability,” Rumsfeld added. “And it’s real and serious.”
As an example, he pointed to the effect an electronic attack shutting down the nation’s power grid would have, not just on banks and financial centers, but on the ability of people to even get around.
“Once electricity goes out . . . you can’t get gas out of a gas station,” he noted. “It doesn’t pump. People can’t move around. You can’t rescue people.”
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