GOP Rep.: Bomb plot leak was "premature chest thumping"
(CBS News) The leak of the disrupted al Qaeda bomb plot aimed at an American aircraft presented a danger to national security and amounted to "premature chest thumping," said Republican Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on CBS' "Face the Nation."
In response to the leak, Rogers said he has ordered a preliminary review. From there, Rogers could open a full-blown committee investigation or refer it to criminal charges to the F.B.I.
"We shouldn't underestimate what really happened here," he told host Bob Schieffer Sunday. "When you jeopardize our foreign service liaison partners, any of them that may or may not have been involved, or you jeopardize the conclusion of wrapping up all of the people involved, that's dangerous to our national security."
Last month, a double agent volunteered to smuggle a new, sophisticated underwear bomb onto an American plane for al Qaeda's Yemen branch. Instead, he turned it over to the U.S. government. It was later revealed that intended suicide bomber was a double agent, working with the CIA, Saudi intelligence agencies and the United Kingdom's MI6.
Relevant lawmakers were briefed about the operation on Capitol Hill on Thursday by the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center. Lawmakers who were briefed said that the intelligence operation was leaked to the Associated Press before the entire operation was complete, and before House Speaker John Boehner, third in line to the presidency, knew about it.
"It clearly raises some serious questions that we're going to have to ask," Rogers said. "We do know that the CIA was trying to stop the story. And we know that there was a scheduled White House - or at least planned press conference on the particular event, and those two desperate positions leads one to believe that ... someone was at odds about how much they should or shouldn't talk about it."
"No national security operation ever should be used for a headline under any circumstances," he said.,/P>
When Schieffer asked Rogers whether he believed the Obama administration had played straight with him on the operation, Rogers replied, "Unfortunately, no."
Rogers said that typically he - as Chairman of the Intelligence Committee - receives regular briefings on such operations.
"This was very different," he said. "So not only did they not notify Congress, which is, by the way, law... There's a reason you do that, so you can have that third-party, independent eye on these kinds of operations because they are serious, dangerous, and classified. And it was interesting even though the press went to the agency and talked about this particular event, nobody thought at the White House it was important enough to live up to the constitutional and statutory rule to notify Congress. It was very concerning.
"This is not anything that should be used for a headline," he said. "Our national security should be exempt from any November at any time in any year."
- Stephanie Condon
Stephanie Condon is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.Follow on Twitter »
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