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Bachmann retains intelligence committee post

11:22 PM, Jan 8, 2013   |    comments
Michelle Bachmann, AP
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By Larry Bivins, Gannett Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Rep. Michele Bachmann will remain privy to some of the nation's most sensitive national security information despite demands she be removed from the committee that oversees intelligence operations.

Having won a fourth term as congresswoman for Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, Bachmann, R-Stillwater, will keep her seats on the House of Representatives' Permanent Select Intelligence and Financial Services committees.

Bachmann, who sought re-election after an unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, announced the committee assignments in a statement on her swearing-in to a new Congress last week.

"I am honored to move forward with the important work of the Financial Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee as we put in place policies to create more jobs, to enhance economic growth and to ensure the safety and security of the American people," Bachmann said.

The news was disappointing to People for the American Way, one of several groups that called for Bachmann's removal from the intelligence committee last summer after she and four House colleagues suggested a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic group.

People for the American Way has collected more than 86,000 signatures on a petition urging House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to remove Bachmann from the committee, which often reviews classified documents. The group plans to deliver the signatures next week to Boehner, who is responsible for naming the committee's Republican members.

Boehner and other Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Sen. John McCain of Arizona, disapproved of Bachmann's insinuation.

Drew Courtney, a spokesman for People for the American Way, said that in allowing Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, to remain on the committee, Boehner failed to heed the message of voters last November.

"Michele Bachmann is clearly more interested in making headlines and pandering to the Tea Party than in governing responsibly," Courtney said. "Last year, she smeared the reputations of honorable public servants and in doing so damaged the credibility of the intelligence committee. November's election made clear that Americans are sick of the Tea Party's reckless extremism. Boehner clearly didn't listen."

There was no immediate response from Boehner's office.

In an online message to members Tuesday, Ben Betz, People for the American Way's online strategy manager, urged those who had signed the petition to share it with others.

"While Rep. Bachmann's Islamaphobic fear mongering is a hit in conspiratorial right-wing circles, it's beneath the level of discourse Americans should expect from members of Congress," Betz said. "Members of the House Intelligence Committee are entrusted with classified information that affects the safety and security of all Americans. That information should not be in the hands of anyone with such a disregard for honesty, misunderstanding of national security and lack of respect for his or her fellow public servants."

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