Republicans Again Turn to Intel Leaks They Once Decried
When the New York Times in December 2005 revealed President Bush's program of illegal domestic surveillance by the NSA, reaction from the White House and its Republican allies was swift - and furious. "These politically motivated leaks," Pete Hoekstra declared, "must stop."
But now desperate to defend at any cost Bush's regime of detainee torture, Capitol Hill Republicans have learned to love leaking classified national security information. As The Hill reported Thursday, Hoekstra and his allies on the House Intelligence Committee selectively made public information from a closed-door hearing on so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.
While Thursday's hearing was closed to the public, Hoekstra and other Republicans on the Committee quickly went public with the assertion that the briefing "proved they had led to valuable information that in some instances prevented terrorist attacks." Afterwards, Hoekstra, who in February used Twitter to reveal the secret visit of a Congressional delegation to Baghdad, spilled the beans, or least some of them:
Hoekstra did not attend the hearing, but said he later spoke with Republicans on the subcommittee who did. He said he came away with even more proof that the enhanced interrogation techniques employed by the CIA proved effective.
"I think the people who were at the hearing, in my opinion, clearly indicated that the enhanced interrogation techniques worked," Hoekstra said.
"Democrats weren't sure what they were going to get," he gloated, adding, "Now that they know what they've got, they don't want to talk about it."
Apparently, because they can't. As Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) put it, "I think they are playing a very dangerous game when it comes to the discussion of matters that were sensitive enough to be part of a closed hearing." Schakowsky also warned:
"I am absolutely shocked that members of the Intelligence committee who attended a closed-door hearing ... then walked out that hearing -- early, by the way -- and characterized anything that happened in that hearing. My understanding is that's a violation of the rules. It may be more than that."
As the record shows, Republican leaders in recent years have made a cottage industry in cherry-picking classified information for public release and political advantage. In 2007, House Minority Leader John Boehner leaked word of a claimed "gap in intelligence" due to a recent FISA court ruling, all to sway the upcoming vote on domestic surveillance. In March 2003, then Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) made public comments about the whereabouts of Saddam Hussein, "sensitive intelligence information that, according to four former senior intelligence officers, impaired efforts to capture Saddam Hussein."
Then there's the outing of covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame. President Bush in October 2003 brushed off the revelations regarding the agent, "I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official." And as the National Journal reported:
Vice President Dick Cheney directed his then-chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on July 12, 2003 to leak to the media portions of a then-highly classified CIA report that Cheney hoped would undermine the credibility of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, a critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policy, according to Libby's grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case and sources who have read the classified report.
For his part, Republican water carrier John Gibson later declared, "whoever outed Valerie Plame should get a medal."
Of course, when the subject was Bush's lawless domestic eavesdropping, Republicans didn't want to give out medals, but to pursue prosecutions.
A furious President Bush thundered against the New York Times for its December 2005 disclosure of the NSA domestic spying program, which he deemed "a shameful act" that is "helping the enemy." Under Alberto Gonzales, the Bush Department of Justice launched an investigation, which ultimately led to former DOJ official Thomas Tamm as one of the paper's leak sources. (While conservatives no doubt will continue to call for the prosecution of both Tamm and the New York Times, the Obama administration will likely pursue neither.)
Back in 2006, Pete Hoekstra decried "unauthorized disclosures of classified information [which] only help terrorists and our enemies - and put American lives at risk." But now that it is the Republican Party itself which is danger, Hoekstra and friends are just fine with "unauthorized disclosures of classified information."