"On a Sunday morning talk show, Republican House Intelligence Committee chairman Peter Hoekstra explained the circumstances which led to him writing a letter to President Bush which said that not informing Congress about "special projects" may be illegal and warned him that he may lose support from some party members on national security matters, RAW STORY has found.
"Mr. Chairman, I know that you supported and were briefed on the NSA warrantless wiretap program, on the tracking of terror finances," said Fox News Sunday's Chris Wallace. "Are you saying that as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, that you were not briefed about other secret programs?"
Hoekstra then explained that whistleblowers had informed him about programs the president hadn't briefed Congress on.
"This is actually a case where the whistleblower process was working appropriately," said Hoekstra. "Some people within the intelligence community brought to my attention some programs that they believed we had not been briefed on."
"They were right," Hoekstra added. "We asked by code name what some of these programs, about some of these programs."
"We've now been briefed on those programs," said Hoekstra. "But I wanted to reinforce to the president and to the executive branch and the intelligence community how important, and by law, the requirement that they keep the legislative branch informed of what they are doing."
Hoekstra added that he took the president's failure to inform Congress "seriously," and that it wasn't an "optional" responsibility.
"There are lots of programs going on in the intelligence community," said Hoekstra. "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."
"And, 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," Hoekstra said."
"We should, I suppose, consider ourselves lucky that the NYT didn't find out which programs Hoekstra was referring to and splash their details all over the front page. But I keep wondering: Are these the alleged "special access programs" that disgruntled ex-NSA employee Russ Tice told the Senate Armed Services Committee about last May — at around the same time that Hoekstra sent his letter?* of course, don't miss emptywheel's take.
Tice — who claims he was a source for the NYT's NSA eavesdropping story — had tried to meet with Hoekstra's committee earlier this year, but was told by the NSA that the committee members lacked the proper clearances to be briefed on the specific programs Tice wished to discuss. Because the programs in question are controlled by DoD, Tice testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee instead, which so far has not taken any action regarding Tice's testimony.
Is it just a coincidence that Hoekstra wrote his letter to President Bush so soon after Tice started talking about these programs? And what are we to make of Tice himself, who was fired from the NSA after he repeatedly accused a co-worker of being a Chinese spy and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation that found him to be paranoid?"
* Hoekstra, of course, is on Sibel's Dirty Dozen whistleblower list.