New York Times Leakmeister Eric Lichtblau, writing with Scott Shane, on Saturday, exposed a secret and undisclosed May 18th letter from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra to President Bush. The Times treats the story as the revelation of another Administration secret Counterterrorism program.
In a sharply worded letter to President Bush in May, an important Congressional ally charged that the administration might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs and risked losing Republican support on national security matters.
The letter from Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not specify the intelligence activities that he believed had been hidden from Congress.
I’m not sure that the Times’ interpretation of the story is correct.
Tom Maguire, the right Blogosphere’s specialist in these matters, reviews the guesses as to the object of Chairman Hoekstra’s wrath from various MSM and blogosphere sources, which suggest:
1) the SWIFT program.
2) the missing Iraqi WMDs.
3) some “more explosive secret” previously alluded to by NSA-leaker, and renowned stalker, Russell Tice.
I have a wildly speculative alternative theory. It just might be that the Times has completely missed the point.
Mr. Hoekstra was also interviewed on Fox News (Allahpundit has the video). In that interview, Chairman Hoekstra referred to his committee having a passion about three things:
1. Getting the right people in the right leadership positions in the Intelligence Community.
2. Implementing the establishment of the office of Director of National Intelligence.
3. Complete and aggressive oversight of all the programs pursued by the Intelligence Community.
In the Times-revealed May 18th letter to President Bush, Hoekstra objects vehemently, and at length, to Kappes’s appointment, writing:
the choice for Deputy Director, Steve Kappes, is more troubling on both a substantive and personal level…
Regrettably, the appointment of Mr. Kappes sends a clear signal that the days of collaborative reform between the White House and this committee may be over… Individuals both within and outside the Administration have let me and others know of their strong opposition to this choice for Deputy Director. Yet, in my conversations with General Haydon it is clear that the decision on Mr. Kappes is final…
I understand that Mr. Kappes is a capable, well-qualified and well-liked former Directorate of Operations (DO) case officer. I am heartened by the professional qualities he would bring to the job, but am concerned by what could be the political problems that he could bring back to the Agency. I am convinced that politicization was underway well before Porter Goss became the Director. In fact, I have been long concerned that a strong and well-positioned group within the Agency intentionally undermined the Administration and its policies. This argument is supported by the Ambassador Wilson/Valerie Plame events, as well as by the string of unauthorised disclosures from an organization that prides itself with being able to keep secrets. I have come to the belief that, despite his service to the DO, Mr. Kappes may have been part of this group. I must take note when my Democratic colleagues – those who vehemently denounced and publicly attacked the strong choice of Porter Goss as Director – now publicly support Mr. Kappes’s return.
Further, the details surrounding Mr. Kappes’s departure from the CIA give me great pause. Mr. Kappes was not fired, but, as I understand it, summarily resigned his position shortly after Director Goss responded to his demonstrated contempt for Congress and the Intelligence Committees’ oversight responsibilities. The fact is, Mr. Kappes and his deputy, Mr. Sulick, were developing a communications offensive to bypass the Intelligence Committees and the CIA’s own Office of Congressional Affairs. One can only speculate on the motives but it clearly indicates a willingness to promote a personal agenda.
The subject of the House Intelligence Committee’s wrath seems not to be the Administration, but rather the Administration’s adversaries.
I’m going to climb way out on a limb with a speculation of my own. I think, perhaps, the “secret program” Chairman Hoekstra is indignant about, which he says is in violation of the law, may not be an Administration program at all. He may actually have been referring to the briefing of the Congressional oversight committees about a very secret Intelligence Community program, viz., the Anti-Bush Administration Intel Operation, described by a reluctant Administration at Congressional request.
Suppose Pete Hoekstra is fed up with the Administration’s failure to expose and prosecute the cabal of Pouting and Leaking Spooks behind the Plamegame, the NSA flap, the renditions story, and all the rest, and is now trying to hold the President’s feet to the fire in order to force him to act. Investigation, exposure, and prosecution of the leakers and conspirators could be initiated by Congress itself, instead of the Justice Department.
I could be completely wrong, of course.
The (Australian) Advertiser seems to read this story the same way I do.