Mike Johnson says ‘no need to public alarm’ over classified national threat - Hindustan Times
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House Speaker Mike Johnson says ‘no need to public alarm’ over classified national security threat

Feb 15, 2024 07:14 AM IST

House Speaker and Intelligence Committee Chair work together to address classified national security issue.

A “serious national security threat” that was revealed by the House Intelligence Committee has sparked calls for President Joe Biden to declassify the information. However, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and other congressional leaders have assured the public that there is no reason to worry.

House Speaker Mike Johnson addresses national security threat. Photographer: Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
House Speaker Mike Johnson addresses national security threat. Photographer: Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

The threat, which involves a “destabilizing foreign military capability,” was made available to all members of Congress on Tuesday, after the committee voted to do so. The committee’s chair, Mike Turner (R-Ohio), urged Biden to make the information public, so that Congress, the administration and U.S. allies can “openly discuss the actions necessary to respond to this threat.”

Turner also sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to inform lawmakers about the “urgent matter” that “should be known by all Congressional Policy Makers.”

Johnson, however, downplayed the urgency of the situation, saying that he and other leaders are working together to address it.

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‘No need for public alarm’

“I saw Chairman Turner’s statement on the issue and I want to assure the American people, there is no need for public alarm,” Johnson said to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday.

“We are going to work together to address this matter, as we do all sensitive matters that are classified.”

“We just want to assure everyone: Steady hands are at the wheel, we’re working on it, and there’s no need for alarm,” he added.

Johnson did not disclose any details of the threat, citing the classified nature of the information. He said he was “not at liberty to disclose classified information and really can’t say much more.”

He did say, however, that he is meeting with national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Thursday at the Capitol, along with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Turner and Rep. Jim Himes (Conn.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee.

‘It’s not gonna ruin your Thursday’

Johnson said he sent a letter to the White House last month requesting a meeting with Biden “to discuss a serious national security issue that is classified,” which led to Thursday’s meeting.

He said he intends to “press the administration to take appropriate action” at the meeting, adding, “everybody can be comforted by that.”

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Himes also tried to calm the public’s nerves, saying that the threat is not imminent or catastrophic.

“People should not panic, that is unequivocal,” Himes told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s a serious issue that Mike is right to focus on but … it’s not gonna ruin your Wednesday. … It’s not gonna ruin your Thursday.”

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