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White House to meet with lawmakers about ‘serious national security threat’

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The Chair of the House Intelligence Committee released a vague, concerning statement Wednesday about a looming “national security threat.”

“Today, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has made available to all Members of Congress information concerning a serious national security threat,” Chair Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said in the statement. “I am requesting that President Biden declassify all information relating to this threat so that Congress, the Administration, and our allies can openly discuss the actions necessary to respond to this threat.”

This statement from the leading intel lawmaker sparked a flurry of concern and speculation.

When a reporter at the White House press briefing on Wednesday asked National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan if Americans should be worried about the threat, Sullivan gave few details but said he was meeting with some members of Congress this week on the issue.

“I think in a way that question is impossible to answer with a straight yes, right?” Sullivan said.

Some lawmakers and experts were more skeptical of the news, raising the idea that it could be a publicity stunt to drum up support for more foreign aid or for reauthorizing FISA, which is expected to receive a vote as early as Wednesday for potential reforms.

Intelligence officials say FISA’s ability to authorize surveillance are needed for national security, but critics say the program has gone too far and been used against Americans.

“Very interested to learn about this threat,” Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Also very interested to know why the spy guys are raising mysterious alarms right before we’re about to reform illegal domestic surveillance under FISA.”

Later Wednesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., downplayed the threat concerns. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Ill., Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, did the same in a statement.

“The Intelligence Community reports on threats every day – that’s their job,” Himes said. “The classified intelligence product that the House Intelligence Committee called to the attention of Members last night is a significant one, but it is not a cause for panic. As to whether more can be declassified about this issue, that is a worthwhile discussion but it is not a discussion to be had in public. As the National Security Advisor stated today, we have a meeting tomorrow to discuss this issue with the National Security Council and the Intelligence Community. Protecting sources and methods is a legal and sacred duty of the House Intelligence Committee and it will remain so.”

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