Hoekstra and Leaks (07/11/06)

Above is, July 8’s   “Axis of Access by one of my favorites,  the Rocky Mountain News‘s editorial cartoonist Ed Stein.

The New York Times published  House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra‘s  May 19, 2006 letter to President Bush on withholding information on intellegence programs, accompanying the July 8 story,  “Ally Warned Bush on Keeping Spying From Congress” by Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane. Marcy Wheeler posted a piece on the letter on her blog.

Lichtblau, you may recall was called treasonous for his revelations about the SWIFT banking data collection program in his June 23 story,  “Bank Data is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror”  co-authored with James Risen. The  Guardian’s blogger Roy Greenslade’s June 26 analysis, “New York Times accused of treason for telling the truth” provides a good look at the hubbub.

This leak of the letter interests me, not because it’s a four-page hissy fit to Bush, but because Hoekstra has been on such a high horse excoriating leaks until this one, about which he blandly comments to Fox News  Sunday’s Chris Wallace that

This is actually a case where the whistle blower process was working appropriately. Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on. They were right.

Contrast this with his July 25, 2005, speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation “Secrets and Leaks, The Cost and Consequences for National Security” first brought to my attention via Steven Aftergood’s Secrecy News

The fact of the matter is, some of the worst damage done to our intelligence community has come not from penetration by spies, but from unauthorized leaks by those with access to classified information.

While Hoekstra now touts whistleblowers,  he made it June 30 to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWC) Dirty Dozen list of members of Congress who

by their action or inaction, have stood against real investigations, hearings and legislation dealing with government whistleblowers who have opposed waste, fraud, abuse and or criminal activities withing government agencies.

NSWC founder Sybil Edmonds emailed me today, saying 

Tomorrow we’ll post follow ups: various letters from whistleblowers to Dirty Dozen’s Offices on the past 4 years; NSWBC letters to them, etc. Also a transcript for a long interview re: why these members are on the list. I’ll send it to you as soon as it’s ready tomorrow.

My guess Hoekstra’s inclusion has something to do with his treatment of whistleblower Russell Tice’s offer to testify regarding the NSA. 

Hoestra, Aftergood pointed out, also attacked the Congressional Research Service in February of this year for speculating about classified intelligence.

Hoestra still believes in weapons of mass destruction.  In the April 13, 2006  Salon article “Bush’s bogus document dump: The administration seeded its new public archive of Iraq documents with jihadist materials completely unrelated to Saddam.”  Fritz Umbach, who speaks Arabic observes,

Whether intentional or not, the conflation and confusion of materials has been more than sufficient to convince bloggers on the political right that there were, as Bush officials insisted, operational links between Saddam’s Iraq and al-Qaida….Is this what Rep. Hoekstra had in mind when he argued that placing these documents online “unleashes the power of people and the Internet” to help “our understanding of prewar Iraq”?

On June 21 Santorum had a press conference over declassified portion of  a report by the National Ground Intelligence Center.  June 22  Fox New’s “The Big Story with John Gibson” aired a segment entitled “Rep. Pete Hoekstra Details His Breakthrough WMD Report.” 

It doesn’t matter when they were manufactured, if they were manufactured in ’88 or whether they were manufactured in ’98 or 2002. They were still in Iraq, and they still have the capability today of killing people.

What breakthrough?  See how the target keeps moving?  Remember Bush’s speeches? Consider this one from the White House website dated October 7, 2002 ironically titled “Denial and Deception”  in which Bush said Iraq  

possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism.

Then Duelfer Report was in the news in October of 2004.  NPR’s October 9 “All Things Considered” reported that

The chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq says Saddam Hussein posed a diminishing threat when the United States invaded. The official, Charles Duelfer, found that Saddam had the desire but not the means to make nuclear weapons.

So Hoekstra redefines WMD to continue it as a justification for the war.  He will be at the Heritage Foundation again tomorrow, as the keynote speaker on “The Captured Iraqi Intelligence Documents: What Do They Reveal and How Should They Be Handled?”



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