WASHINGTON - Congressional intelligence committee leaders turned up the heat on the White House over alleged national security leaks on Thursday, with the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee suggesting she might be willing to join Republican demands for an investigation by a special counsel.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee's Democratic chairwoman, told reporters she needed more time to consider Republican demands - voiced earlier this week by Senator John McCain and committee vice chair Saxby Chambliss - for a special counsel to probe how highly sensitive secrets were disclosed to news media.
The Intelligence Committee chiefs and other legislators have called for urgent investigations into recent media disclosures on US cyber warfare against Iran, procedures for targeting militants with drones, and the existence of a double agent who penetrated a militant group in Yemen.
McCain has suggested that some of the leaks may have been calculated to boost the election prospects of President Barack Obama - something White House spokesmen emphatically deny.
Feinstein cautioned that she was still pondering the "special counsel" idea for the current leak inquiries because "A special prosecutor can take years. We don't have years. We need to legislate and we need to do things quickly."