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LaHood Admits He Was ‘Playing Politics’ When He Asked For Intel Staffer To Be Suspended

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"LaHood Admits He Was ‘Playing Politics’ When He Asked For Intel Staffer To Be Suspended"

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This week, on the request of Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL), Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) suspended a Democratic staffer’s access to classified information. Hoekstra said the suspension would remain in place pending a review to determine if that staffer leaked a classified National Intelligence Estimate to the New York Times.

Today on Fox News, LaHood said, “I’ll tell you why I did it. The reason I did it was because Jane Harman released the Duke Cunningham — who sat on our Intelligence committee — report.” That report, which detailed the misconduct of Cunningham, who is now serving a jail term, was not classified.

A Fox anchor asked, “So, it’s payback?” LaHood responded, “There are some of us on the other side who can equally play politics, and I’m not afraid to do it.” Watch it: Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/10/lahood.320.240.flv]

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Transcript:

LAHOOD: Well, look, we’ve had far too many leaks in the intelligence committee, and I’ve been on the committee eight years and I’m the vice chairman of the committee, and I’m sick and tired of leaks. And when I learned that this information was available to this staffer and a member, and then printed in the New York Times two days later, I really felt compelled, as a member of the committee that’s fed up with the leaks, to send a letter to the chairman and ask him to investigate it. And that’s what’s going on and given that fact that we, you know, we’ve tried to do things in a bipartisan way, this, you know, obviously clearly is a breach of that. So we just felt compelled to send the chairman a letter.

ANCHOR: Congressman, you wrote that letter nearly three weeks ago, and your letter is just surfacing now, at least to us in the media, you know a lot of Democrats are upset today, saying this is all happening just two weeks before the election, the timing is just suspect.

LAHOOD: Yeah, I’ll tell you why I did it, Jane. The reason why I did it is because Jane Harman released the Duke Cunningham — who sat on our Intelligence committee — report, in violation of the trust that she gave to Chairman Hoekstra, in saying that it would be released in a bipartisan way. She released it arbitrarily, and I’m furious about that. She betrayed the trust of the committee because that report was to be released in a bipartisan way. She released it to the media just to embarrass, 21 days before the election, Republicans on the committee. That’s the reason that I released my letter today.

ANCHOR: So it’s payback?

LAHOOD: Look it, this is–we’re in the political season, and if the ranking member on our committee wants to play politics, there’re some of us on the other side that can equally play politics, and I’m not afraid to do it.

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