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Rep. Peter Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, wrote a letter to President George W. Bush back in May saying the Administration probably violated the law by not informing Congress of his secret intelligence activities against Americans.
“I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed,” Hoekstra said in his letter to Bush. “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,”
News of the letter surfaced Sunday in The New York Times, the paper currently under fire for reporting Bush’s super secret and legally-suspect spying activities – the same New York Times that other Republican reactionaries want charged with treason for telling the truth.
Hoekstra confirmed the letter in a talk show appearance Sunday but said he didn’t learn of the intelligence activities from the Times but from whistleblowers within the intelligence community who are sick and tired of Bush’s frequent and flagrant abuses of the law.
What the whistleblowers told Hoekstra pissed him off.
“We can’t be briefed on every little thing that they are doing,” Hoekstra said on Fox News Sunday. “But in this case, there was at least one major — what I consider significant activity that we have not 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,”
Hoekstra is not another Arlen Specter, jabbing the President with needles at every public opportunity. For the most part he is a loyal Republican soldier in the House’s army of conservatives who normally back Bush, although he did oppose Bush’s nomination for director and deputy director of the CIA.
What’s important here is that more and more members of the intelligence community are breaking with tradition and taking their grievances to Capitol Hill because they cannot stand the constant abuse of the Constitution by the Bush Administration.
“I did not join the firm to spy on my fellow countrymen,” says former CIA operative Jonathan Westlake, who left the agency in disgust.
Likewise, Valerie Plame, the covert CIA operative outed by the White House in a program of retaliation against her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, talks of growing internal resistance within the agency over being forced to spy on Americans in direct violation of the CIA’s charter.
Current employees of both the CIA and NSA say privately that morale is in the pits as the agencies struggle to comply with Bush’s secret programs that require them to monitor the daily lives of many Americans.
Resignations from both agencies, along with departures from the FBI, are at all-time highs and those who leave talk of a “corruption” of their mission by a White House that ignores laws designed to protect the freedoms of Americans.