Among them the existence of at least one “major program.”

Same old problem. You want to defend Bush, but he does. not. make. it. easy.

What good reason could he have had for withholding information he’s legally obliged to share? To make a point about executive privilege in wartime? Because he suspects some committee members of leaking to the press? Spruiell speculates that the programs were under DoD’s umbrella and that the intel committee didn’t have the necessary clearances to know about them. But if that’s true then why, according to the Times, did intel officials go ahead and brief the committee on the programs after Hoekstra found out about them and complained?

The Times was forthright/foolish enough to include Hoekstra’s letter to Bush as a PDF in its sidebar, and it turns out he complained about a lot more than just secrecy:

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 long been convinced 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.

Tom Maguire notes that this passage barely figures in Lichtblau’s story. I wonder: why would the Times’s chief beneficiary of government leaks, hot on the heels of his patriotic vindication of the Founders’ vision in exposing the SWIFT program, want to downplay Hoekstra’s belief that the press is being used as a pawn in a political vendetta?

This won’t detract from Joe Wilson’s status as an American hero, will it?

I’ll leave you to ponder who might have leaked Hoekstra’s letter to Lichtblau. It’s unclear if the entire intel committee was copied on it; if so, a Democratic member’s the safest bet — although the Times does quote at least one Republican, Heather Wilson, as being unhappy with Bush. If not, then Hoekstra himself is the likeliest candidate. Is he so alarmed by Bush’s secrecy that he’d go nuclear and give the letter to one of the president’s least favorite reporters? Spruiell thinks he might have used the complaint about secrecy as bait to draw the press’s attention to the letter when in fact it was the information about Stephen Kappes and the political vendetta that he really wanted to publicize. But he had no way of knowing that the Times would even mention the vendetta stuff, and surely there are easier ways for the House intel chairman to make his point than by leaking correspondence with the White House which, by the way, is highly damning of the administration’s info-sharing policies.

I don’t know. Too much cloak and dagger for a Sunday night.

Tags: White House