By Jared Allen - 06/05/09 07:45 PM EDT
Democrats are considering punishing Republican members on the Intelligence Committee who openly discussed information that was given to them at a classified briefing on interrogations.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the chairwoman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, acknowledged on MSNBC that panel members received a classified briefing on Thursday. And she said Republican members who spoke to the The Hill after the briefing could be sanctioned.
“That’s going to be a discussion that I think we’ll have,” she said.
Schakowsky made it clear that Republicans who spoke about the hearing were in direct violation of committee rules forbidding the discussion of anything that happened behind closed doors.
“Everybody understands what that means, that we are dealing with classified materials, and that the content of the briefing, all the facts surrounding the content of that briefing, are not to be disclosed,” Schakowsky said. “And so I think this is a very serious breach of our obligation as members of the committee. At the very least I would say it’s a violation of the rules.”
Following Schakowsky’s Thursday hearing, Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.), a member of the subcommittee, said he left the hearings further believing that controversial interrogation methods have been effective.
“The hearing did address the enhanced interrogation techniques that have been much in the news lately,” Kline told The Hill. “Based on what I heard and the documents I have seen, I came away with a very clear impression that we did gather information that did disrupt terrorist plots.”
The top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), said his conversations with members on the subcommittee led him to draw the same conclusion.
Republicans have maintained that nothing they said violated any committee rules regarding the dissemination of classified material, or rules governing the disclosure of information discussed in a closed hearing.
Schakowsky, however, said that members who attended the hearing knew it was classified .
“We can have a debate about classification, and what shouldn’t be, but clearly the congressmen knew that we were dealing with a classified documents – documents – a classified briefing, and it was a closed hearing,” Schakowsky said.
The Central Intelligence Agency declined to comment on Thursday’s hearing or Democratic claims that Republicans may have revealed classified information.