Ally Warned Bush on Keeping Spying From Congress
The New York Times Reported that:
WASHINGTON, July 8 — 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.
But Mr. Hoekstra, who was briefed on and supported the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program and the Treasury Department's tracking of international banking transactions, clearly was referring to programs that have not been publicly revealed.
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.
A copy of the four-page letter dated May 18, which has not been previously disclosed, was obtained by The New York Times.
"I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed," Mr. Hoesktra wrote. "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."
Frederick Jones, a White House spokesman, declined to comment on the concerns raised by Mr. Hoekstra but said that "we will continue to work closely with the chairman and other Congressional leaders on important national security issues."
A spokesman for Mr. Hoekstra, Jamal D. Ware, said he could not discuss the activities allegedly withheld from Congress. But he said that Mr. Hoekstra remained adamant that no intelligence programs could be hidden from oversight committees.
The complete story may be found here: