White House: No comment on alleged Syria support

After a closed-door meeting with National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the four leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees hold a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 7, 2012, to discuss the recent spate of classified national security information leaks. From left are Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

After a closed-door meeting with National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the four leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees hold a news conference, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 7, 2012, to discuss the recent spate of classified national security information leaks.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
(CBS News) The White House has no comment about new reports, first reported by Reuters, that President Obama has signed a secret presidential order authorizing support for rebel forces in Syria, according to a National Security Council spokesman, who said only "we don't" when asked for the administration's reaction to the story.

According to Reuters, the order, which the president signed earlier this year, "broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust [Syrian president] Assad."

Mr. Obama has spoken in the past of providing logistical and humanitarian support for the Syrian rebels, but has stopped short of confirming any plan to arm them. According to Reuters, the administration is currently not providing the rebel forces with lethal weapons, and the extent of CIA involvement is unclear.

The story represents the latest in a string of news reports containing what would appear to be high-level security information -- including pieces about Mr. Obama's alleged "kill list," U.S. cyber attacks on Iran and more.

Both Republicans and Democrats have condemned the leaks, and President Obama has denied has vowed to hunt down their source. But Republicans have questioned administration's vigilance, accusing it of strategically divulging information that would work to its benefit.

According to the New York Times, the F.B.I. has launched an exhaustive criminal investigation into the source of the leaks, casting a "chill" over press coverage of national security issues. Meanwhile, the Senate Intelligence Committee last week approved a bill designed to prohibit future leaks via increased restrictions on the number of intelligence officials authorized to speak with the press, among other things.

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