An ethics watchdog charged Monday that House Minority Leader John Boehner broke the law and endangered national security by releasing classified information last week in a Fox News interview.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked the Justice Department's Counterespionage Section to investigate whether Boehner violated US law by releasing the information.
The Ohio Republican told Neil Cavuto of a classified ruling by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court that led to Congress expanding President Bush's authority to spy on overseas communications.
"By revealing classified information, the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives appears to have compromised national security for partisan political gain," CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, said in a news release. "We urge the Justice Department to immediately commence an investigation."
CREW cites a July 31 interview Boehner gave on Fox News.
"There's been a ruling, over the last four or five months, that prohibits the ability of our intelligence services and our counterintelligence people from listening in to two terrorists in other parts of the world where the communication could come through the United States," Boehner said.
CREW argues that Boehner could face up to 10 years in prison for willfully communicating classified national defense information, "which would be used to the injury of the United States."
Although Boehner has previously criticized illegal leaks for political gain, the liberal watchdog group says his remarks to Cavuto appeared to be an effort to blame Democrats for failing to pass legislation modifying the FISA law. Congress finally adopted an update to the FISA law that eliminated the Court's objection by allowing warrantless surveillance of international communications routed through the United States.
The following video of Boehner's comments was posted by ThinkProgress on YouTube: