The country has a new guardian for its national security secrets: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).
The outspoken Minnesota congresswoman, and Tea Party favorite, has been tapped by House Speaker John Boehner for a coveted slot on the House Intelligence Committee, giving Bachmann a new role as overseer of the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community, her office confirmed today.
The move comes at a time when Bachmann is seeking to burnish her national security credentials, as as she weighs a possible run for higher office. Bachmann's spokesman, Doug Sachtleben, confirmed this week that she is planning to speak at an Iowans for Tax Relief fundraiser in Waterloo, Iowa, later this month, a move that has fueled speculation that she may be planning to carry the Tea Party banner into the GOP presidential primaries.
"She's not taking anything off the table as far as her political future," he said.
Sachtleben said there was "no connection" between Bachmann's possible future plans and her recent request to Boehner serve on the House Intelligence Committee. Bachmann, who until now has not served on any committee that deals with foreign policy issues, wanted to serve on the intelligence committee, because "she was concerned as a mother" about the threat of terrorism and other national security issues. He did, acknowledge, however that the new position will be "helpful" in giving her "further credentials in the international area."
The selection of Bachmann to serve on the intelligence committee has already created a buzz among our House colleagues, especially among Democrats who noted her penchant for provocative, if sometimes not fully supported, statements on a range of issues. Bachmann, for example, was one of a number of conservatives who fueled false claims that President Obama's official trip to India after the election was costing taxpayers $200 million a day. (When challenged, Bachmann told the BBC she was only "quoting a newspaper out of India.")
One House Democrat, who asked for anonymity, said the real issue about Bachaman is "will she able to keep quiet" about everything she gets briefed on in the intel committee since almost all of it is classified. Sachtelben, Bachmann's spokesman, said the congresswoman has already discussed this with her staff and "she understands the terms."