By: E&P Staff
In another story that may not make the White House happy, The New York Times on Sunday reported that it had obtained what it calls “a sharply worded letter” by a top Republican sent to President Bush on May 18, which charged that the administration “might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs.” It also warned that he risked losing his party’s support on national security matters.
This was tantalizing, but the four-page letter from Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not identify the intelligence activities hidden from Congress. Hoekstra confirmed the story later on Sunday.
The reporters, Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane, observed: “Recently, after the harsh criticism from Mr. Hoekstra, intelligence officials have appeared at two closed committee briefings to answer questions from the chairman and other members. The briefings appear to have eased but not erased the concerns of Mr. Hoekstra and other lawmakers about whether the administration is sharing information on all of its intelligence operations.”
In the letter, according to the Times, Hoekstra wrote: “I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed. If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the administration, a violation of the law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the members of this committee who have so ardently supported efforts to collect information on our enemies.”
He added: “The U.S. Congress simply should not have to play Twenty Questions to get the information that it deserves under our Constitution.”
Hokestra confirmed the story later Sunday, saying, “I take it very, very seriously otherwise I would not have written the letter to the president.
“This is actually a case where the whistle-blower process was working appropriately and people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on. They were right,” said Hoekstra.
Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, declined to comment.
Hoekstra’s views on oversight appear to be shared by some other Intelligence Committee members, the Times notes.