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Issa Defends Release of Libya Documents

Rep. Darrell Issa interviewed after Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 25, 2011. (National Journal)

After enduring criticism all weekend over the documents released by his committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., defended the decision on Sunday, Politico reports.

He accused Democrats of making "false charges" about the documents endangering Libyan lives, saying the Democratic criticism "only shows their desperation to hide the truth."

In addition, according to a transcript from a closed-door meeting with State Department officials earlier this month, Issa called the concerns "crap," saying anything below a "classified" label is fair game for Congress. The documents were not classified.

"Congress doesn't recognize and will not recognize "˜for official use only,' "˜sensitive,'" he said. "Those are not classified. We would note it, but we would continue. Anything below Secret is in fact just a name on a piece of paper. And I think it is important to understand that. So if you have seen papers that say "˜for official use only,' "˜State Department sensitive,' that is crap."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, who has joined Issa in leading the investigation, also defended the release of the documents.

"Every document is unclassified and stamped on that in front of it," Chaffetz said on Monday on Fox and Friends.

On Monday, Democrats continued their attack from Sunday, calling Issa's actions "outrageous."

"This reckless and irresponsible release jeopardizes the lives and safety of our partners and their families," said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., the ranking member on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. "There is no justification for playing political games with our national security and the well-being of Libyans working with us to achieve a more secure future."

On Sunday, Sen. Dick Durbin and several other Democratic lawmakers took to the talk shows to lambaste Issa and Republicans for politicizing the attack in an election year.

"Let's get the facts together," he said on Fox News Sunday. "This idea of Chairman Issa, that he's going to dump the names, in public, of Libyans who are risking their lives to support America and keep us safe, in an effort to get a political toe-hold in this election, is unconscionable. It is unacceptable."