- The Washington Times - Monday, July 10, 2006

The Bush administration was running several intelligence programs, including one major activity, that it kept secret from Congress until whistleblowers told the House intelligence committee, the committee’s chairman said yesterday.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he had written a four-page letter to President Bush in May warning him that the failure to disclose the intelligence activities to Congress may be a violation of the law.

Mr. Hoekstra said he was informed about the programs by whistleblowers in the intelligence community and then asked the Bush administration about the programs, using code names. Mr. Hoekstra said members of the House and Senate intelligence committees then were briefed on the programs, which he said is required by law.

“We can’t be briefed on every little thing that they are doing,” Mr. Hoekstra said. “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.”

Mr. Hoekstra complained to Mr. Bush in a letter dated May 18, which was reported in yesterday’s New York Times.

In the letter, Mr. Hoekstra said the lack of disclosure might have constituted 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.”

“I take it very, very seriously. Otherwise, I would not have written the letter to the president,” he said yesterday on Fox.

The White House declined to comment directly on the charges in Mr. Hoekstra’s letter.

“We will continue to work closely with the chairman and other congressional leaders on important national security issues,” said Alex Conant, a White House spokesman.

Mr. Hoekstra complained in his letter to Mr. Bush that Congress “simply should not have to play ‘Twenty Questions’ to get the information that it deserves under our Constitution.”

In the letter and the interviews, Mr. Hoekstra did not provide details about the programs, which presumably remain secret.

Mr. Hoekstra has been critical of the administration at other times. In his letter, he also objected to the president’s nominees for the director and deputy director of the CIA. He also complained about the role of the director of national intelligence — a position created in response to the September 11 attacks.

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