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Hastert: ‘Loose lips’ kill Americans

Declaring that "loose lips" kill Americans, a top Congressional Republican leader said on Wednesday the House of Representatives will debate a resolution condemning the U.S. media for exposing details of secret intelligence programs.
/ Source: Reuters

Declaring that "loose lips" kill Americans, a top congressional Republican leader said on Wednesday the House of Representatives will debate a resolution condemning the U.S. media for exposing details of secret intelligence programs.

The move heaps more criticism on The New York Times and other newspapers that reported last week on a secret program by the U.S. Treasury Department that tracks private bank records.

"What we're talking about is people who are leaking classified information. It's not news. It's classified information our government is using to fight terrorists," said House Speaker Dennis Hastert, of Illinois.

"Loose lips kill American people," he added.

A floor vote is scheduled for Thursday, said a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner.

Damage investigation requested
News reports of the bank-monitoring program, and a separate surveillance effort that monitors phone traffic without a court warrant, have drawn outbursts from President Bush and other Republicans who say that coverage of the programs undermines their effectiveness.

In the Senate, Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, has asked the administration for a formal assessment of any damage to the secret programs caused by news coverage.

In the House, New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, has asked the Justice Department to investigate The New York Times.

Arizona Republican Rep. J.D. Hayworth has demanded that New York Times reporters be stripped of their press passes, according to CQToday, a daily publication that covers Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers have no direct influence over press passes because they are administered by a group of reporters, not congressional officials.

A New York Times spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.