Clapper: Leaks are ‘literally gut-wrenching,’ leaker being sought

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in an interview that aired Saturday night that the leaks regarding the Obama administration's surveillance programs are "literally gut-wrenching" and that the administration has requested a criminal investigation into who leaked the information.

"For me, it is literally – not figuratively – literally gut-wrenching to see this happen because of the huge, grave damage it does to our intelligence capabilities," Clapper told NBC News's Andrea Mitchell.

Clapper accused the media of using "hyperbole" in describing the programs. The National Security Agency's collection of phone records was first reported by the Guardian, while a separate program that tracks Internet data of foreigners as revealed by the Guardian and the Washington Post.

He said the NSA has asked the Justice Department to find whoever leaked the information.

"I think we all feel profoundly offended by that," Clapper said. "This is someone who, for whatever reason, has chosen to violate a sacred trust for this country. And so I hope we're able to track down whoever's doing this, because it is extremely damaging to, and it affects the safety and security of this country."

Appearing on a separate Sunday show, the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees -- Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), respectively -- both urged an investigation into who leaked the information.

Rogers had tough words for both the leaker and the reporter who first broke the story, the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald.

"(Greenwald) doesn’t have a clue how this thing works; neither did the person who released just enough information to make this dangerous," Rogers said on ABC's "This Week." "I absolutely think (the leaker) should be prosecuted."

Greenwald responded via Twitter:

 

Updated at 11:00 a.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | June 9, 2013