I had a feeling there was something more--a lot more--to the Lichtblau-Shane story reporting a surveillance program that Peter Hoekstra hadn't been briefed on. Only I wasn't sharp enough to do what texas dem did--look for the letter referenced in the article. Thanks to texas dem, we can see clearly that Hoekstra's complaints about undisclosed surveillance programs are nothing more than a threat leveled in response to the Administration's departure from previous efforts to gut the intelligence agencies.
The letter is a primarily a complaint about the nomination of General Hayden to be head of the CIA and--more important still--Hayden's determination to name Steven Kappes as Deputy Director of the CIA. Hoekstra describes Hayden's commitment to Kappes as a fundamental departure from previous collaboration between the White House and the House.
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. I am concerned that the strong objections - not just about this personal selection - are being dismissed completely, perhaps sending us back to the past, less cooperative relationship, at a time when so much more needs to be done. Individuals both within and outside the Administration have let me and others know of their strong opposition to the choice for Deputy Director. Yet, in my conversation with General Hayden it is clear that the decision on Mr. Kappes is final. Collaboration is what got us successful intelligence reform. Why would we want to eschew such a relationship and process that proved so successful? [my emphasis]
Note the reference to "individuals both within and outside of the Administration." Did Dick or Rummy put Hoekstra up to this complaint?
Hoekstra admits Kappes is qualified to serve as Deputy Director. But he worries that Kappes will bring politicization back to the agency.
There has been much public and private speculation about the politicization of the Agency. I am convinced that this 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 unauthorized 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.
Now, you and I are concerned about the politicization of the Agency, so what's the problem?
Simple, Hoekstra isn't worried about the Vice President and his sidekick Scooter strong-arming analysts to falsify intelligence to justify a war. Quite the contrary. Hoekstra mentions the Plame Affair as proof of politicization, implying that Wilson's exposure of the Administration's use of discredited intelligence counts as politicization. And he suggests the unauthorized leaks before the war--those professionals trying to alert Congress and the public that the intelligence didn't support Administration claims--are more politicization. Hoekstra, you see, means something different by the term politicization than we do. Politicization, to Peter Hoekstra, is anything that undermines attempts to disinform the public about justifications for the Iraq war.
Remember, Hoekstra is the guy who championed the database of "Iraqi" documents, which is largely another attempt to create a false connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq, another attempt to claim there were WMDs when there were none.
On March 15, the ODNI began releasing what Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described on his Web site as "millions of pages of documents, recordings and other media captured during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and Desert Storm." When he tried to convince the ODNI to declassify the material earlier this year, Hoekstra argued, "There may be many documents that relate to their WMD programs. Those should be released. Same thing with links to terrorism." Once the ODNI had released the material, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave it a nod of approval, telling NBC's Tim Russert on March 26, "We're going to find some important and surprising things in these documents."
The first surprising thing we find in the documents, which are available here through the U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office's Joint Reserve Intelligence Center, is that they are not necessarily from, or even about, Iraq. For example, document 2RAD-2004-601189 is described as "Abu-Zubaydah Statement on the Capability of al-Qaidah to Manufacture and Deliver Nuclear Weapons to the U.S." Sounds like smoking-gun material, but what exactly does it have to do with the case for war against Saddam? Zubaydah, a top bin Laden operative who was captured in Pakistan in 2002, told interrogators that al-Qaida could build a "dirty bomb," but he didn't say anything about getting Saddam's help to do it. Moreover, the "statement" itself is nothing more than an Arabic summary of a 2002 CBS News story on Zubaydah's claims. It has no identifiable link to Iraq, other than the odd fact that it appears on a U.S. government site billed as Operation Iraqi Freedom Documents.
And Hoekstra is one of the nut-jobs trying to claim outdated munitions are proof that Iraq had WMDs. As the Lichtblau-Shane article explains, Hoekstra was quite upset that Death Squads Negroponte pooped on his party and admitted the munitions find was absolutely worthless.
Most recently, Mr. Hoekstra strongly criticized a news briefing arranged by Mr. Negroponte's office on an Army report that 500 pre-Gulf War chemical shells had been found scattered around Iraq. On June 29, Mr. Hoekstra, who had said the finding established that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, made public an angry letter to Mr. Negroponte calling the briefing "inaccurate, incomplete and occasionally misleading" and asserting that "attempts were made to downplay the significance of relevant facts."
And, finally, Hoekstra accompanied nut-job extraordinaire Curt Weldon to his meeting with Fereidoun Mahdavi which Weldon later used to make incendiary claims about Iran. Hoekstra isn't in the business of ensuring we get sound intelligence. He's in the business of disinformation.
Hoesktra goes on to complain about the constitution of Death Squads Negroponte's office. Now, as I recall, the 9/11 Commission recommended a very strong DNI but Rummy managed to undercut that stance, resulting in a DNI still fighting with DOD for control of intelligence. It seems like Hoekstra agrees with Rummy.
My view for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was, and remains, one of a lean, coordinating function that provides "corporate" leadership to the individually high-fidelity intelligence agencies - "corporate divisions" if you will. This vision does not include the DNI "doing" things so much as the DNI "making sure things get done" by the agencies.
God forbid we had a DNI that actually did something. God forbid Death Squads Negroponte manages to have the power to effect the change he has been mandated to implement.
It's against this background that we need to read Hoekstra's threat. He lost a partner at CIA when BushCo fired Porter Goss and replaced him with General Hayden. He worries that Steven Kappes will return professionalism to the CIA and expose any attempts--attempts that Hoekstra is quite fond of--to game the intelligence in service of the warmongers. And he's worried that DNI will have the power that he was supposed to have. It's not so much that Hoekstra is worried about intelligence reform. He's worried that Intelligence will no longer be his playground to use to accrue power and disinform the American people.
Which makes me believe his is an empty threat.
Finally, Mr. President, but perhaps most importantly, I want to reemphasize that the Administration has the legal responsibility to "fully and currently" inform the House and Senate Intelligence Committees of its intelligence and intelligence-related activities. Although the law gives you and the committees flexibility on how we accomplish that (I have been fully supportive of your concerns in this respect), it is clear that we, the Congress, are to be provided all information about such activities. I have learned of some alleged Intelligence Community activities about which our committee has not been briefed. In the next few days I will be formally requesting information on these activities. If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach of responsibility by the Administration, a violation of 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. [my emphasis]
This is Hoekstra suggesting that he will play hardball with the Administration if he, Hoekstra, continues to lose power. It's not so much that he minds Bush's illegal spying programs (on the contrary, Hoekstra emphasizes his support for Bush's illegal spying). But he knows he can use those programs to threaten Bush.
So, thanks to texas dem, we can answer several of the questions I raised in this post. Yet I'm still curious how this relates to the underlying background, the ouster of Goss and the fight between Rummy and Death Squads Negroponte for control of intelligence.
With his embrace of falsified intelligence, Hoekstra is a man after Michael Ledeen's own heart (and don't forget Laura Rozen's tip that Ledeen's wife provided the tip on the outdated munitions to Santorum). And Hoekstra certainly seems to be siding with Rummy in the fight over control of intelligence. Hoekstra's invocation of "individuals both within and outside of the Administration" may refer to this crowd, the OSP types who invent intelligence.
But how does that relate to the Goss ouster, to the Wilkes' pimp service, and to Cunningham-Lewis-Doolittle (and others) abuses of the military and intelligence contracting?
I could be wrong, but we may be in the middle of a fight for power in which one side--the Administration--threatens to shut down the other side's gravy train of contracting kickbacks. And the other side--Congress--threatens to expose the Administration's illegal spying programs.
This could get fun. A pity it all comes at the expense of our Constitution and our nation's security.
As this post is now getting linked rather than my earlier one that addresses this issue, let me be clear. I'm not dismissing the dangers of having another surveillance program that is so secret that not even Administration shill Pete Hoekstra can hear about it. I'm suggesting the following:
- Hoekstra is in no way advocating real oversight here--he's offering rubber stamp approval for Bush's programs in exchange for inclusion in them
- The Administration is now keeping programs secret from its own supporters, which might suggest those supporters are a target (or that, for some reason, the faction needed to be excluded)
- If I'm right about the factionalism involved, this is the Rummy-Cheney faction telling the Bush faction not to get too independent, because they can get him in legal hot water
- Hoekstra also seems to be fighting an implicit move away from supporting baseless intelligence claims (the outdated chemical weapons)--it's almost as if he's saying, "you better support my baseless intelligence claims or I'll expose your illegal spying programs"
But the factionalism (which I'm just guessing at, I could be totally wrong) is critical, because it provides a clear view of how the House gravy train responded to the Goss outing, and outlines ways Bush might be blackmailed into letting the House gravy train carry on with its corruption. Remember, underlying the Wilkes/Cunningham/Lewis/etc. scandal are the surveillance programs Wilkes himself won, which includes the CIFA program. We get shitty domestic surveillance no matter which of these factions win.