WASHINGTON — Rep. George E. Brown Jr. (D-Colton), a vocal critic of some of the Reagan Administration's key military and space initiatives, Wednesday quit the House Intelligence Committee three years ahead of schedule, complaining that the assignment "greatly inhibited" him from campaigning against policies he opposes.
"The Administration is using classification issues to paper over policies they don't want public discussions of," Brown charged. He vowed that he "would force a confrontation" with the Administration over several military and intelligence issues he believes have been improperly classified.
Rep. Dan Glickman (D-Kan.), who has served with Brown on the House Science and Space Technology Committee, will assume the Riverside County Democrat's spot on the intelligence panel.
Brown has led House battles to limit testing of the Air Force's anti-satellite weapons and several other arms systems associated with the Administration's Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense program, commonly called "Star Wars."
Most recently, he has clashed with leaders of the intelligence community over a proposal to make available to commercial subscribers photographs of the Earth taken by the Pentagon's super-secret KH-11 spy satellite.
The congressman maintains that he has gathered information on the KH-11's capabilities through open sources. But intelligence officials told him that all aspects of the program are classified and warned that he would be breaching the terms of his committee membership if he discussed the program publicly.
"I don't reveal information that is properly classified," said Brown, who has served in the House for 23 years. "But you can go down to the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum and buy a map for $2.95 with the name and location of the KH-11. It's one of their most popular items."
Brown said he had not been denied access to classified information during his tenure on the committee but complained that the panel had been "lied to and, in effect, conned," by intelligence officials.
"The members (of the committee) don't want to confront the Administration, even though they've been provoked on several occasions," he said. "I'm just not as tolerant as they are."