Nevada lawmakers say Bush right to be angry over leaks
ELKO, Nev. (AP) – Members of Nevada’s congressional delegation believe President Bush is justified in his anger over news leaks, which Sen. Harry Reid said border on treason.
”The president had a right to be upset,” Reid, D-Nev., told the Elko Daily Free Press on Wednesday, calling the leaks ”almost treasonous.”
Reid said in a telephone interview he knows who the two senators are who leaked secrets but would not divulge their names.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., said he thought there should be ”severe sanctions” placed against those who leaked top secrets. ”That’s the way you stop this thing,” he said.
Ensign said Bush had every justification for being outraged, and he didn’t believe everyone in Congress should be privy to the most classified information because they can’t all be trusted to keep secrets.
Bush decided last Friday to restrict the number of lawmakers who get top secret briefings to the House speaker, House minority leader, Senate majority and minority leaders and the chairmen and top minority leaders on the intelligence committees.
He offered a truce Wednesday at a breakfast meeting with humbled lawmakers: Congressional committees on armed services and foreign relations will continue to be briefed on anti-terror diplomatic and military operations.
Under the compromise, the administration will maintain a distinction between operational secrecy and ”oversight, overview information that Congress needs to do its job,” White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said.
Reid wouldn’t have been in the initial loop, but he said under the compromise he is sure he can get any intelligence he needs.
”I’ve never had a problem getting information,” Reid told the Free Press.
Rep. Jim Gibbons said in a statement Tuesday he was concerned the restrictions could hamper his work as chairman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence and as vice chairman of the Terrorism and Homeland Security Subcommittee.
His press secretary, Amy Spanbauer, said on Wednesday that Gibbons was pleased with the compromise.
In his statement, Gibbons, R-Nev., said intelligence information is ”not meant to serve as tantalizing fodder for provocative headlines.”
”We are talking about matters of national security – as well as life and death,” Gibbons said.
”I hope that those members who have been privileged to receive classified information in the past, now realize the significance of the words: ‘Top Secret.”’
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