By Jared Allen - 06/06/09 12:21 AM EDT
The top Republican on an intelligence subcommittee fired back at Democrats on Friday night after they accused GOP lawmakers of revealing sensitive information following a closed hearing earlier this week.
Rep. Jeff Miller (Fla.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, maintained that his members acted appropriately after the hearing. He countered Democratic claims that Republicans sought to close the hearing to the public, and even cautioned Democrats accusing Republicans of violating committee rules that they may have violated those rules themselves.
According to Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), the subcommittee chairwoman who ran Thursday’s hearing, those Republicans were at the very least in violation of committee rules forbidding the discussion of information revealed during a closed session. Schakowsky said on MSNBC’s The Ed Show on Friday that Democrats may sanction Republicans, claiming there needs to be “accountability.”
Miller defended those members who spoke to The Hill Thursday evening and who shared their assessment of the hearing, in which about a dozen Democrats and Republicans received a classified briefing, presumably from national security officials, about interrogations of suspected terrorists.
“Mr. Kline has in no way released any classified information in regard to the hearing,” Miller said.
Asked specifically if Kline was also free of the charge that he violated the separate committee rule prohibiting the disclosure of any aspect of a closed-door, or executive, session, Miller did not directly answer.
“Again, my comment is he has absolutely not revealed any classified information,” Miller said.
But Miller also issued a warning to Democrats charging that Republicans violated committee rules.
“The chairwoman clearly can move in any direction she wishes,” Miller said. “However, to try and sanction somebody for discussing anything that happened behind closed doors will probably ensnare the chairwoman, as well, so she needs to be extremely careful.”
Asked for specifics, Miller said: “She needs to look at her statements to the media and what she has discussed in regard to the hearing.”
Littig told The Hill earlier Friday: “In express disregard of our committee rules, there are members who revealed information learned in a committee executive session. If the minority wanted to have open hearings, they didn’t have to make the motion to go closed. It was their prerogative to move to close the session.”
Miller, who said he requested the hearing be closed only after being asked to do so by Schakowsky, called Littig’s assessment “absurd.”
“It appears as though the majority is trying to take the tact that the meeting was closed at the behest of the Republicans when in fact I made the motion to close the hearing at the request of the chairwoman,” Miller said.
“And I will, upon return to Washington on Monday, I will request that the exact same hearing take place in an open forum,” he added.
Democrats did not respond to any of Miller’s comments.