Security not compromised - Obama
US president Barack Obama has said he is not aware of any evidence that the expanding sex scandal that caused the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus has compromised US national security.
"I have no evidence at this point from what I've seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security," Mr Obama said at a White House news conference last night.
Mr Obama didn't question the FBI's decision to wait several months to inform the White House of the investigation into harassing e-mails that led to the discovery of
Gen Petraeus's affair.
"One of the challenges here is that we're not supposed to meddle in, you know, criminal investigations, and that's been our practice," he said. Politicians have said the FBI should have informed the White House and Congress sooner.
Mr Obama's remarks were his first public comments on the FBI inquiry since Gen Petraeus, a retired Army general, resigned from the CIA on November 9th.
The investigation also ensnared Mr Obama's top commander in Afghanistan - and his nominee to serve as Nato Supreme Allied Commander - Marine General John Allen.
Gen Petraeus's affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, and the Allen investigation have complicated matters for Mr Obama as he weighs an overhaul of his Cabinet at the start of his second term.
It's also a distraction as negotiations begin between the president and Congress on a deficit-reduction deal to avert $607 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts next year.
Mr Obama also told Republican senators yesterday that if they had a problem with the handling of the Benghazi attack in Libya, to "go after me" rather than pick on his ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice.
He was speaking after two senior Republican senators said they would block any attempts by the president to put Ms Rice into a Cabinet position that would require Senate confirmation.
Republicans have criticised Rice for going on a round of Sunday talk shows five days after the September 11th attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya and saying that preliminary information suggested it was the result of protests over an anti-Muslim film rather than a premeditated strike.
The White House has said repeatedly the comments were based on the best information Ms Rice had at the time. But Republicans have used her early assessment as a cudgel for criticizing the administration as not being forthcoming about Benghazi, and the senators' remarks yesterday suggested they would pursue the issue even though the US presidential election is over.
"But for them to go after the UN ambassador who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous," Mr Obama said.
The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in the attack that has raised questions about the security of the diplomatic mission, U.S. intelligence about the threat, and the adequacy of the immediate U.S. response.
The issue has become a sensitive one for the administration after Obama's re-election last week as he shapes his Cabinet for a second term. Rice is considered a possible contender to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who does not intend to stay, or for another top post.
"We will do whatever's necessary to block the nomination that's within our power as far as Susan Rice is concerned," said Republican Senator John McCain, who was joined by fellow Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.