Sen. John McCain says his comments on recent leaks are not election-year partisanship.

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GOP Sen. John McCain wants special counsel in leaks case

That idea has been dismissed by Democrats

McCain is referring to leaks of details about Osama bin Laden's killing

CNN  — 

Sen. John McCain on Tuesday accused Democrats of “hypocrisy” for opposing the appointment of a special counsel to investigate recent national security leaks, saying they supported such independent investigations in the past when Republicans were in the White House.

McCain’s comments came on the same day he pushed for a Senate vote calling for a special counsel but was blocked by Democrats. He spoke to reporters after being told Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-California, preferred the investigation be carried out by two U.S. attorneys appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder.

“I am shocked, shocked. I am shocked to hear Sen. Feinstein now opposes” a special counsel, McCain said in a voice thick with sarcasm.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, defended the Democrats’ handling of the leaks and said it was the actions of Republicans like McCain that are “strictly political.”

“This whole episode, the last few days, led by my Republican friends, has been a strictly partisan, insincere attempt to embarrass the president,” Reid said while touting that the Obama administration is responsible for six of the nine criminal leak investigations in the history of country. “We are the ones that pushed for higher, stronger penalties of people who do leak things. So this is strictly political.”

Even as McCain accused Democrats of hypocrisy, he bristled at a suggestion the GOP push he is leading for a special counsel might be viewed by voters as an election season political attack against President Obama.

“Why shouldn’t voters think that after 26 years in the Navy, a member of the Armed Services Committee for the last 20-some years, that I don’t recognize a breach of security when I see it? When the director of National Intelligence says it’s the worst breach in 30 years? When every intelligence agency says it’s the worst breach they’ve ever seen? They’re going to question my judgment?” he asked. “No, I don’t think so. I think I have some credibility with the American people. One helluva lot more than a national security adviser who was told by the secretary of Defense to shut the F up. “

McCain was referring to details of Osama bin Laden’s killing that emerged after the raid. Then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates complained publicly about disclosure of crucial information about the raid and, according to a new book, used colorful language with National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.

“I’m confident the American people appreciate my experience, my knowledge and my background on national security. And I would match it up against anyone in the White House.” McCain said.