BOEHNER, BACHMANN, AND A RECKLESS COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENT…. As the start of the 112th Congress draws closer, House Republican leaders are making committee assignments for their new majority caucus. One assignment, in particular, appears inexplicable.

In a press release yesterday, incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) explained, “The members of the House Intelligence Committee are charged with one of the most significant responsibilities of Congress — keeping the American people safe by ensuring our nation’s intelligence community has the resources and authorities it needs to succeed and conducting effective oversight of the Administration.”

That seems like a reasonably fair assessment of the committee, though I’d also note that members of the House Intelligence Committee are given access to some of the nation’s most sensitive materials and classified secrets. It’s a panel that requires a great deal of its members, who can’t so much as hint about what they’re shown behind closed doors.

And with that in mind, this decision is just breathtaking.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, one of the most outspoken conservatives in the House, has won an appointment to the secretive House Intelligence Committee.

The move by incoming Speaker John Boehner to put Bachmann on the panel surprised Republican insiders, who see her as a fiery grass roots leader of the tea party movement but not necessarily a leader on national security among House Republicans.

Bachmann once suggested that Congress should investigate whether Democratic lawmakers were pro- or anti-America, and she’s been a cable TV favorite because she’s known for colorful sound bites.

Members of the Intelligence panel receive classified briefings in a secure conference room in the Capitol, and are sworn to secrecy about most of the committee’s activities.

Look, I realize that Bachmann makes convenient fodder for jokes and mockery, but there’s a good reason for that — she’s stark raving mad. Bachmann, in all seriousness, is one of the more ridiculous people to serve on Capitol Hill in my lifetime. I think most reasonable observers, regardless of party or ideology, should be able to agree that Bachmann lacks maturity, judgment, and the intellect needed to understand complex subjects.

Voluntarily assigning her responsibilities related to top secret intelligence and our national security is more than just a mistake — it’s arguably dangerous.

I’ve heard some whispers that have suggest Boehner is actually thinking strategically on this. Members of the Intelligence Committee are generally encouraged to avoid the media spotlight, and since Boehner very likely finds Bachmann embarrassing, this is his way of forcing her to keep a lower profile.

Perhaps there’s something to this. But the fact remains that trusting Bachmann with our most guarded secrets is an inherently risky move.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.