US Officials Push Back After Lawmaker Sounds Alarm on Security Threat


The White House along with other top officials are seeking to reassure the American public after a key lawmaker sounded alarms about a “serious national security threat” facing the United States.

In an unusual move that caught some of his fellow lawmakers by surprise, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee publicly called on President Joe Biden to declassify intelligence on the unnamed threat so that the American public and its allies could formulate a response.

Republican Representative Mike Turner declined to elaborate. But in an email Turner reportedly sent to colleagues, shared on social media by various news outlets, he described the danger as a “foreign military destabilizing capability.”

Several media outlets, quoting U.S. officials, reported late Wednesday that the threat involves a new Russian space-based capability.

But a U.S. official, speaking to VOA on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the intelligence, said that while the danger is significant, it is not imminent.

“The threat described does not involve an active capability that has been deployed,” the official said.

US President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in Washington on Feb. 8, 2024.

The White House also sought to downplay concerns, noting it was already set to brief lawmakers on some of the details Thursday.

“I’m confident that President Biden, in the decisions that he is taking, is going to ensure the security of the American people going forward,” said White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

“We believe that we can and will and are protecting the national security of the United States,” Sullivan told reporters, adding he was surprised that Turner took his concerns public since they were scheduled to meet for a classified briefing Thursday.

Sullivan also defended the decision not to make the threat intelligence public, pointing both to concerns about protecting U.S. “sources and methods,” and the president’s willingness to declassify intelligence in the past.

“You definitely are not going to find an unwillingness to do that when it’s in our national security interests to do so,” he said. “This administration has gone further and, in more creative, more strategic ways, dealt with the declassification of intelligence in the national interest of the United States than any administration in history.”

Some key lawmakers also pushed back.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Jim Himes, called the threat “a significant one” but “not a cause for panic.”

“As to whether more can be declassified about this issue, that is a worthwhile discussion,” he added in a statement. “But it is not a discussion to be had in public.”

The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee likewise sought to allay concerns.

The committee “has the intelligence in question and has been rigorously tracking this issue from the start,” Democratic Chairman Mark Warner and Republican Vice Chairman Marco Rubio said in a statement.

“We continue to take this matter seriously and are discussing an appropriate response with the administration,” they added. “In the meantime, we must be cautious about potentially disclosing sources and methods that may be key to preserving a range of options for U.S. action.”

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson separately told reporters multiple times there is “no need for public alarm.”

“I want to assure the American people,” Johnson said. “We just want to assure everyone steady hands are at the wheel. We’re working on it and there’s no need for alarm.”

VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara and Katherine Gypson contributed to this report.

Las Vegas News Magazine

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