June 29, 2006

House debates measure condemning intelligence leaks

By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans intensified their
criticism of news media over security issues on Thursday as the
U.S. House of Representatives debated a resolution that
condemns public disclosure of secret surveillance programs.

Republican lawmakers in both houses of Congress said
government employees who revealed details of a secret Treasury
Department effort to monitor bank transfers to the New York
Times and other news outlets had undermined national security.

Ohio Republican Rep. Michael Oxley said such disclosures
helped terrorists hide their activities more effectively.

"What's the average terrorist going to think? He's going to
find a different way to move his money around, that's what he's
going to do," said Oxley, sponsor of the House resolution.
"He's going to change his behavior."

Oxley's nonbinding resolution condemns the disclosure of
classified information and says the House "expects the
cooperation of all news media ... by not disclosing classified
intelligence programs."

Democrats said Republicans should not blame newspapers for
holding the Bush administration accountable when they have
declined to do so, and pointed out that Republicans did not
protest when leaks worked in their favor.

Over the past week, President George W. Bush has led a
chorus of criticism against the Times and other media outlets
for their coverage of the bank-monitoring effort and a separate
surveillance program that monitors phone calls without a court

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said of his similar
resolution: "We need to express collective outrage at the
indiscriminate leaking of classified information." His
resolution also calls on the Justice Department to prosecute
people who leak classified information.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter declined to endorse
Cornyn's resolution.

"I think there would have to be a clear-cut showing of
prejudice and damage before I would favor any resolution to
inhibit media coverage," the Pennsylvania Republican told

Separately, Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth has
gathered 70 signatures on a letter calling for Times reporters'
media credentials to be revoked.

(Additional reporting by Vicki Allen)