The government should conduct an inquiry into damage done by the recent disclosures of intelligence programs aimed at stopping terrorists, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman said Tuesday.
"We cannot continue to operate in a system where the government takes steps to counter terrorism while the media actively works to disclose those operations without any regard for protection of lives, sources and legal methods," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., who as intelligence chairman has been briefed extensively on the efforts.
In a letter, Roberts asked National Intelligence Director John Negroponte to order an assessment of damage caused by the disclosure of the government's most classified programs. He said he was particularly interested in the impact of stories on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program and its program to monitor terror finances.
Administration officials have publicly confirmed both programs.
A spokesman for Negroponte said intelligence officials are reviewing Roberts' request, according to NBC News.
"The intelligence community takes extremely seriously any unauthorized disclosure of classified information," said Carl Kropf, Office of the Director of National Intelligence spokesman.
In December, President Bush acknowledged the National Security Agency's program to monitor the international communications of people on U.S. soil when terrorism was suspected. In a departure from past practice, no court approval was deemed necessary.
Last week, senior administration officials also confirmed that the Treasury Department and CIA were using administrative subpoenas to pull information from an extensive financial database, called Swift. The Brussels, Belgium-based system captures information on money moved in more than 200 countries.
The New York Times broke the NSA story and was one of three newspapers to lead the coverage on the terror-financing program. Said Roberts: "The New York Times has the right to print what it sees fit to print. But, just because you can, doesn't mean you should."