Monday, July 10, 2006



Congress has some nerve! Who are these legislators claiming they have some "right" to be informed on intelligence programs being run by the executive branch?

Damn nosy Democrats! Um, oh, wait this time it's a Republican complaining...must be one of those quisling squishes like Arlen Specter, right?

Oops! This time it is
conservative chairman of the House Intelligence Committee -- and administration supporter -- Peter Hoekstra:

House intelligence committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) would not describe the program, but he said it was significant enough that the administration should have briefed him and others voluntarily, without waiting for them to learn of it through government tipsters.

"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," Hoekstra said on "Fox News Sunday." "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 said the briefings took place after he complained in a May 18 letter to President Bush of hearing about "alleged Intelligence Community activities" not described to committee members in classified briefings. "If these allegations are true," he wrote to Bush, "they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of law and . . . a direct affront to me and the Members of this committee."
The central problem with the Bush administration is deeply disturbing. There is absolutely no respect for the concept of separation of powers and shared responsibility in governing a constitutional republic. Hoekstra is not kidding here: He's not talking about some minor slight between ostensibly co-equal branches of the governement -- "a violation of law" is serious language.

Even though Hoekstra's letter was written back in May, one can't help but consider it in the light of the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan ruling. There, Justice Stevens explicitly rejected one argument having little to do with the specifics of Guantanamo -- Congress' recent legislation preventing the federal courts from getting involved in enemy combatant due process suits was applicable to pending cases including Hamdan. Stevens was clearly sending the signal that he wouldn't allow a pre-emptive strike against the power of the Court to speak on issues constitutional import.

This story underscores the point Eli Lake
made last week: Unless the press highlights this secretive, borderline illegal, approach to governance, the only way things will come to light will be from "government tipsters." One would also hope that this gives pause to the GOP's rush to pillory leakers.

Indeed, one can't help but feel that it is not a coincidence that the New York Times
broke the Hoekstra story this weekend -- just a week after Republicans declared war on the Gray Lady for reporting the SWIFT/terrorist financing story. The attitude seems to be..."So, you got us for going overboard on a story in which Congress had been fully briefed. Fine, how about this one where we won't mention what the program is -- but at least one key GOPer is pissed that he hasn't been informed about what is going on? How ya like me now?"

But, come to think of it -- isn't this a better story in the first place? The Hoekstra revelation doesn't compromise any national security concerns but makes the same central point: The administration has contempt for basic constitutional prerogatives.

So why did the Times damage itself on the SWIFT piece which was pretty much a nothing story to begin with?

Technorati Tags: , ,

Bookmark and Share

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Weblog Commenting and Trackback by AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Technorati search
Search Now:
Amazon Logo
  •  RSS
  • Add to My AOL
  • Powered by FeedBurner
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage
  • Subscribe in Bloglines
  • Share on Facebook