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Pete Hoekstra demands Congressional oversight in "terror" surveillance

Reported by Chrish - July 10, 2006 -

Republican Rep.Pete Hoekstra appeared on Fox News Sunday today 7/9/07 and in a significant break with the Bush administration he has "accused them of failing to inform Congress of ongoing intelligence surveillance programs." Host Chris Wallace reported that Hoekstra sent a "sharply worded" letter to Bush in May, in which the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that the White House may have violated the law by concealing the secret activities.

From the letter:

"The US Congress simply should not have to play 'twenty questions' to get the information it deserves under our Constitution."

Asked by Wallace if he was saying that he wasn't properly informed about some program other than the "NSA warrantless wiretap" and the "tracking of terror finances" programs, of which he was informed and which he approved, Hoekstra said that the letter (among other things) included wording insisting on "complete and aggressive oversight of all of the programs in the intelligence community. "(his emphasis.). He said

"This is actually a case where the whistleblower 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. We asked, by codename, about some of these programs; we have now been briefed on those programs, but I wanted to reinforce to [Bush] and to the Executive Branch and the intelligence community how important and by law (his emphasis) the requirement that they keep the Legislative Branch informed of what they are doing."

Wallace said that Bush always says that Congressional leaders are briefed; how does he (Hoekstra) explain this failure and how seriously does he take it?

Of course, Hoekstra couldn't explain it and didn't attempt to, saying "I take it very, very seriously, otherwise I would not have written the letter to [Bush]. ...How do you explain it.. there are lots of programs going on in the intelligence community. We can't be briefed on every little thing that they are doing, but in this case there was at least one major - what I consider significant activity that we had not been briefed on that we have now been briefed on. I want to set the standard there that it is not optional for this president or any president or people in the executive community not to keep the intelligence committees fully informed of what they are doing."

Comment: Wow. Welcome to our world, Congressman. It is gratifying to hear a Republican finally stand up to this super-secretive administration and say hey, you've crossed a big fat Constitutional line. In light of all the indignation about "leaks" by the press and people within the administration, it will be interesting to see how FOX spins this "appropriate" leak in the next few days, and how they cover Bush's behind for his obvious transgression.