Recent news articles have contained details of U.S. involvement in a partially successful computer virus attack on Iran's nuclear program and on the selection of targets for counterterrorism assassination plots. The leaked information generally paints Obama as a decisive and hands-on commander in chief, and Republican critics suggested the leaks were orchestrated to boost Obama's reelection chances.
Obama said his critics "need to have a better sense of how I approach this office and how the people around me here approach this office."
"We're dealing with issues that can touch on the safety and security of the American people, our families or our military personnel or our allies, and so we don't play with that," he said.
Obama said his administration has "zero tolerance" for such leaks and that there would be an internal administration probe.
In his statement, Holder said he had appointed Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, to direct separate probes being conducted by the FBI.
Leaders of the Senate and House intelligence committees said Thursday they were drafting legislation to further limit access to highly classified information and possibly impose new penalties for revealing it. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said he would investigate recent leaks.
The CIA has come under fire for allegedly sharing with Hollywood filmmakers classified details of last year's U.S. raid into Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden.