House Republicans on Tuesday offered sharply divergent views about secret government surveillance programs and the leaks that made them public, underscoring the unsettled nature of a political debate that has scrambled the usual partisan lines.
Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, suggested at a hearing that reporters who published articles based on leaked National Security Agency documents may be criminals “fencing stolen material.”
At a parallel hearing on surveillance matters related to the leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor who disclosed the documents, Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, expressed skepticism about the agency program that collects records of all Americans’ phone calls — and about President Obama’s stated intention to overhaul it. The program came to light as a result of an article in The Guardian based on a leaked document.
The different approaches reflect a split that has opened in Congress between the judiciary panels, which tend to be centers of libertarian privacy concerns and skepticism about the surveillance programs, and the intelligence committees, which are focused primarily on national security and have defended the N.S.A.