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Hope for Oversight?

In another story that may not make the White House happy, The New York Times on Sunday reported that it had obtained what it calls “a sharply worded letter” by a top Republican sent to President Bush on May 18, which charged that the administration “might have violated the law by failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence programs.” It also warned that he risked losing his party’s support on national security matters. […]

The reporters, Eric Lichtblau and Scott Shane, observed: “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.”

In the letter, according to the Times, Hoekstra wrote: “I have learned of some alleged intelligence community activities about which our committee has not been briefed. 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.”

The Chairman is either fed up with or no longer willing to tolerate the “undeclared” nature of certain programs. Depending on where you sit this is either a very good or very bad thing. Speaking in the broadest of terms and giving overseers a reassuring pat on the back worked well for a long time, but then certain people took advantage. Kick even the most loyal dog enough and eventually he won’t come back; an adage that applies to both sides. When the trust is gone, the whole thing falls apart, and at this stage we cannot afford it.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.