The chairman of the US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee warns of a serious threat to national security


The Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday urged the Biden administration to declassify information about what he called a serious threat to national security.

Rep. Mike Turner did not elaborate on the nature of the threat, and the Biden administration also declined to address it. But several prominent lawmakers, including U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, warned against being too alarmed.

Johnson said he was not free to reveal classified information. “But we just want to make sure everyone has a steady hand on the wheel. We’re working on it and there’s no need to panic,” he told reporters at the US Capitol.

Turner sent an email to members of Congress earlier on Wednesday saying his committee had “identified an urgent issue regarding a destabilizing foreign military capability” that should be made known to all congressional policymakers. He encouraged them to go to a SCIF, a safe zone, to review intelligence.

Democratic Representative Jim Himes, ranking member of the US Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the classified information is “significant” but “not cause for panic.”

In the US Senate, the Intelligence Committee said it has been following the matter.

“We continue to take this matter seriously and are discussing an appropriate response with the administration,” Sen. Mark Warner, the Democratic committee chairman, and Sen. Marco Rubio, the Republican vice chairman, said in a statement. “In the meantime, we must be cautious about revealing sources and methods that may be key to preserving a range of options for American action.”

Turner’s warning comes at a time of prolonged debate in Congress over US President Joe Biden’s request for $95 billion in foreign aid, including money for Ukraine to defend itself against Russia, for Israel in its war with Hamas and for Taiwan and its partners in the Indo-Pacific. to counter China.

A faction of House Republicans aligned with former US President Donald Trump is among those who opposed the aid, rejecting the administration’s argument that defeating Russian forces in Ukraine is an urgent national security concern for USA.

Turner’s announcement appeared to catch the Biden administration off guard.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House that he was due to brief Turner and other senior congressional leaders on Thursday. Sullivan did not disclose the subject or provide any other details related to Turner’s statement.

“I’m focused on going to see him, sitting down with him and the other members of the House Gang of Eight tomorrow,” Sullivan said. “And I’m not in a position to say anything else from this podium at this time.”

He acknowledged that it was not common practice to offer that type of information.

“I’ll just say that I personally approached the Gang of Eight. In fact, it’s very unusual for the national security adviser to do that,” Sullivan said. He said he had been in touch earlier this week.

Johnson said he sent a letter last month to the White House requesting a meeting with the president to discuss “the serious national security issue that is classified.” He said Sullivan’s meeting was in response to his request.

Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani and Kevin Freking contributed

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