Dem senator: I shouldn't have speculated on security leaks

Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., holds up a copy of a report at a Senate hearing May 25, 2011, in the Dirksen Senate Office building on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
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(CBS News) Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is backing off of comments she made Monday at the World Affairs Council suggesting recent national security leaks might have come from the White House, saying in a statement that she "shouldn't have speculated" on the source of the leaks.

"I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks," Feinstein said in a Tuesday statement. "I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn't have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don't know the source of the leaks.

After a spate of recent New York Times articles 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 -- concerns have been raised about the source of the leaks, which have been condemned by Democrats and Republicans alike.

President Obama has dismissed the notion that the leaks came from the White House, and has promised that if the sources can be rooted out, they will "suffer consequences."

Republicans, however, have expressed skepticism at that explanation, and some have accused the administration of selectively releasing classified information for political gain.

On Monday, Feinstein, a liberal Democrat and four-term senator, said that while she does not suspect Mr. Obama of knowingly leaking the information, "I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks."

Today, in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) organization, Romney seized on those comments, and accused the White House of "contemptible" conduct.

Feinstein said Tuesday she was "disappointed" by Romney's remarks, and expressed regret they're being used against the president.

"I'm on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets," she said. "I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly."

"I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone," she added.