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Congress, White House react to 'Top Secret America'

On Monday morning, Acting Director of National Intelligence David C. Gompert weighed in on the reporting in The Washington Post series "Top Secret America."

As the day progressed, lawmakers and White House press secretary Robert Gibbs weighed in as well.

"Do you have any problem with what the Post published? Did it in your view compromise national security?" Gibbs was asked at the daily briefing Monday.

"Well, look, I'm not going to get into some of the discussions that we had," Gibbs said. "Obviously there were some concerns. And I think The Post covered that there were some concerns, about certain data and the availability of some of that data."

The Post reported that it allowed government officials to see the 'Top Secret America' Web site several months ago and asked if there were any specific concerns about the upcoming revelations.

Gibbs called providing for intelligence infrastructure "a balancing act" between "ensuring that we have both the best capabilities in the world" and "not wasting taxpayer dollars."

At the Capitol, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was coming under "increasing pressure to end her standoff with the White House on Congressional oversight of the intelligence community," The Hill reported. And Sen. Kit Bond (R-Mo.), the ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pointed to The Post series to argue for speedy passage of the revised intelligence authorization bill unanimously passed by his panel Monday.

"We can do more to keep our nation safe, and improving Congressional oversight and ensuring the top spy chief has the authority needed to streamline our intelligence community are the first steps," he said.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the first story in the series showed the need to reform the intelligence bureaucracy:

The first story in this series generally tells us a lot of what was already known--the national security bureaucracy is large, redundant and lacks the nimbleness to respond to threats posed to our nation. The first installment somewhat overstates the problem of intelligence growth by conflating intelligence and defense activities, but it supports my long-held belief that the answer to addressing threats to American security won't come in the form of a larger intelligence bureaucracy. It will come from building a streamlined and integrated national security community that is capable of quickly responding to current and emerging threats.
In 2006, as chairman of this committee, we examined this issue and issued a report that found problems with bureaucratic growth at the top and a lack of urgency and direction within the intelligence community. It is frustrating that years later, others are looking at this issue and finding the exact same problems.
Congressional Republicans have pushed for years to address these issues, by seeking to limit bureaucratic growth at our intelligence agencies and focusing scarce national security dollars towards operations and away from agency headquarters. Republicans also have fought successfully to cut pork-barrel spending in the annual intelligence bill by eliminating the earmarks that fuel some of the unnecessary growth and don't offer the American people the transparency they need or deserve for directed spending.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee will continue to push to get resources and funding to our intelligence professionals in the field and out of Washington. As we have in the past, we will continue efforts to limit bureaucratic growth, redundancy and earmarks in future intelligence bills to get money where it is needed most--providing for the security and protection of our nation.

By Garance Franke-Ruta  |  July 20, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
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