McCain slams White House for alleged security leaks


UPDATED 11:05 a.m. ET

(CBS News) Arizona Sen. John McCain lashed out at the Obama administration, alleging they selectively released information about U.S. efforts to curtail Iran's nuclear program.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that the United States is using computer warfare to attack Iran's nuclear program.

In an interview with "CBS This Morning," McCain charged that the White House released this information in order to present President Obama in the most favorable light.

"This is a breach of national security. And ... you can put lipstick on a pig but it's still a pig," McCain said.

David Sanger, the reporter who broke the story that has been described by one official as "a state of low-grade, daily conflict" with Iran, said he learned from sources outside the White House that the so-called Stuxnet computer worm was a joint U.S.-Israeli intelligence effort code-named "Olympic Games." The effort was started under President George W. Bush and continued by the the Obama administration.

And he wrote in his recently released book on the subject that he withheld some details "at the government's request" because they could "jeopardize current or planned operations."

" Well, I guess it depends on how you look at it, but also in his story and other stories at the White House, they confirmed those as being factual," McCain said when host Charlie Rose noted that Sanger had withheld information.

"All they had to do was say, this is classified information and we won't discuss it. And administration officials at the highest level confirmed these facts. They obviously shouldn't have done that," McCain said.

McCain has called for an investigation into the leaks.

"The kinds of information that was leaked to The New York Times and other outlets, obviously, are breaches of national security, otherwise they would not be classified. You know, what we're hearing from the administration now, well, it was really okay. If it was okay, then make it public," McCain said.

White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to comment on the specific information in the articles but said the Obama administration takes the appropriate steps to prevent leaks.

"Any suggestion that this administration has authorized intentional leaks of classified information for political gain is grossly irresponsible," Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.