Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) disclosed Tuesday that he resigned from the Senate Intelligence Committee last January because he was responsible for the leak of a draft staff report on the panel’s Iran- contra investigation.
Leahy said that quitting the committee was “a suitable way to express regret and anger” at the unauthorized release of the document.
He said in a statement that he had not intended to leak the report, which was not classified, but that he had been careless in allowing a reporter to examine the draft alone.
In addition to Leahy’s written statement, Sens. David L. Boren (D-Okla.), committee chairman, and William S. Cohen (R-Me.), vice chairman, issued a separate joint statement disclosing the Jan. 13 resignation but not naming Leahy.
The intelligence committee’s investigation was a forerunner of the more extensive Iran-contra inquiry now being conducted jointly by special panels. Boren and Cohen are members of the panels. Leahy is not.
The intelligence committee’s investigation was conducted last year when Republicans controlled the Senate and Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.) was chairman of the panel. Leahy was vice chairman.
The report had been leaked to NBC, which aired a story on Jan. 11.
The committee’s final version was considerably different from the leaked draft report.
Leahy said he was traveling in the Midwest early in January when he was informed that the unclassified draft report had been disclosed.
Leahy said that he then called Boren and admitted that the leaked report likely was his copy.
Leahy said he told Boren “that in a discussion with a member of the press who was questioning whether the committee was delaying release . . . for partisan reasons, he allowed the reporter to look at part of the unclassified draft to show that it was being held up because there were major gaps and other problems with it.”
The lawmaker said that he was angry with himself “for carelessly allowing the press person to examine the unclassified draft and to be alone with it. There was no discussion of disclosure” and “no intention” that the report be made public, he said.
Tuesday’s Cohen-Boren statement made clear that the disclosure did not constitute a breach of national security but noted that the committee had voted against releasing the report.