Pete King Rips White House Over Leaks
By Michael McAuliff
October 8, 2010
Rep. Pete King is hammering the White House over its handling of terrorism prosecutions, accusing the administration of leaking dangerous information to the press, then blaming him for it.
That comes after King charged there was “luck” involved in this week’s life sentence for failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, and a law enforcement source told the Daily News the only thing lucky was that King didn’t blow the case by leaking.
“I would challenge you to find one thing I ever leaked that was in any way secret, top secret, came from a briefing or anything else,” fumed King, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee.
“Whoever said that about me is either a moron or a liar,” King said.
In the Times Square bomb case, King says administration sources connected to counterterrorism czar John Brennan tipped the press off so aggressively that Shahzad knew he was being hunted.
Shahzad got away from the manhunt around his home, but was grabbed getting on a plane at Kennedy Airport.
King fumed that Brennan should be fired, and blamed him for trying to shift scrutiny to King.
“I have no doubt that John Brennan is behind this,” said King, noting that he has asked for an investigation of leaks in the Shahzad case. (That letter is below.)
The White House declined to comment on King’s charges.
The congressman went further, though, saying the decision of a judge Wednesday to bar a key witness in another terror case — the trial of alleged African embassy bomber Ahmad Ghailani — shows that he’s right about keeping such cases out of civilian courts, and especially New York.
“It shows how difficult convictions can be,” King said. “I have no doubt that a military tribunal would have at least let in testimony of the witness.”
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Justice Department would appeal the ruling, and stood by the decision to try such cases.
“We continue to believe that, as we saw in the case of Mr. Shahzad, that there is — there is an appropriate avenue for these courts to play,” Gibbs said, adding that in Shahzad’s case, the role was “ultimately locking him up for the rest of his life for his actions in Times Square.”