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Senate Intel Chairman And Ranking Republican Warn Intel Leak ‘Could Be Worse Than We Think’

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Following a closed-door hearing on the documents allegedly leaked to a gaming website by a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the chairman of the intelligence committee, told reporters on Wednesday he could not comment on any of the specifics.

But he gave a “couple of top-line points.”

“One, this was a serious leak of important information,” Warner said:

“And anyone that has any position of responsibility in elective office, or for that matter, in the media, that doesn’t appreciate the seriousness, I think, is acting extraordinarily irresponsibly.

“Two, we need to make sure that internal security processes from things like copying documents and production of documents, as well as the overall access questions, get thoroughly examined.

“And one of the things that we have moved into in this Internet-driven age is a process called continuous vetting. So even once you get a security clearance, especially a top-secret security clearance, you’re supposed to be vetted on an ongoing basis.

“That raises a whole host of questions, about posting in public and otherwise on the Internet, that frankly still need to be sorted out.”

Also stepping up to the microphone was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the ranking Republican on the intelligence committee:

The leak of top secret information by a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman “has created domestic political problems for key allies, undermined our relationship with those allies and potentially cot us access to future of key intelligence,” Rubio said, calling the situation “stunning.”

“That the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies found out about it primarily through the press is unacceptable. And I’m not sure, at least in the time I was in there, I certainly wasn’t satisfied with any plans they have in place to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Rubio said the extent of the damage is “real,” but not yet fully understood, and “it could be worse than we think.”

Rubio took another opportunity to criticize what he called “the lack of information sharing and disclosure and cooperation on the part of the intelligence agencies with Congress, saying it’s “the worst it’s ever been.”

“So, in many cases, what is being revealed in the press or leaked inside the administration is often ahead of what they are willing to share with us.”

Rubio said it’s time for Congress to “step up.”

“And I think you see this with the Trump-Biden-Pence classified documents issue, whether it’s shoot-downs of balloons, whether it’s this case, the administration has apparently taken the tack that they’re going to compartment, obscure, and keep as much information as possible from Congress in an effort to control information.”

Rubio said the question is whether Congress on a bipartisan basis will assert its “right and obligation to conduct oversight over these agencies, which can’t be done without full access” to information.

But oversight is “getting harder to do every day,” he said, because the Biden administration “seems to be making it harder and harder to get access to information.”

“So we’ve come to a crossroads here as a Congress. We’re either going to have oversight over intelligence activities in this country or we’re going rubber-stamp these things. I am not in the rubber-stamp camp, and I think most of my colleagues aren’t, either.”

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