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The House approved language on Thursday that would prevent the Obama administration from sharing classified information about U.S. missile defense technology with Russia.
The language was proposed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) as an amendment to the 2013 Department of Defense spending bill and quickly approved by voice vote. Brooks said he proposed it as a reaction to the hot-mic conversation between President Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, in which he said he would have more flexibility on the issue of U.S. involvement in European missile defense after the November election.
Republicans have said they fear Obama’s remarks indicate he is working on some secret arrangement with the Russians, and Brooks said his amendment is meant to prevent any sharing of missile defense technology with Russia.
“In light of recent statements by President Obama that he wanted ‘more space’ from the Russians in regards to missile defense, and his statement that he would ‘have more flexibility’ on this issue after the elections, I am concerned… that the United States’s critical hit-to-kill and other valuable missile defense technology may become pawns in a political chess game of appeasement with the Russians,” Brooks said.
Brooks also said the United States should be especially wary of sharing anything with Russia, in light of comments from Russia’s military threatening the nation if it participates in a missile defense system in Europe.
“If Russia’s defense staff is wiling to blatantly threaten the United States, why should the United States hand them the keys to technology that gives America’s war fighter a decided advantage?” he asked.
Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio) said he supports the language as a way to shape whatever agreement Obama might be working out with Russia.
“This amendment would say, ‘Mr. President, you won’t tell us what your secret deal is, but that secret deal better not include sharing classified information of the United States with the Russians about our missile defense,’ ” he said.
“This actually may be the most critical amendment that we will consider on this bill today,” said Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.), who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense. “There should be no secret deals on our missile defense with the Russian president or any other person not involved with the security of our own nation.”
Democrats let the amendment go without a fight, although Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) said he saw it as harmless given the unlikelihood that Obama would share classified information with Russia.
“We don’t have any problem with this amendment,” Dicks said. “I would be very surprised if the administration would give any classified information to the Russian government.”
Brooks said his language is similar to language that was approved as part of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year. The House is expected to pass the 2013 spending bill, H.R. 5856, by Friday.