House Intel Chairman to Rockefeller: 'Give Me a Break'

In the Capitol today, I asked Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R.-Mich), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, what he would have done had he been approached by the Bush Administration with classified information on a policy he disagreed with.

Hoekstra didn’t hesitate to give me a list of options that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D.-W.Va.), who knew about the policy and is now voicing criticism, could have pursued.

Rockefeller only wrote a letter, to which Hoekstra said, "If I felt a great deal of discomfort with this program, there is a lot more I would have done than just write one letter over a period of four years. "

Here’s what Hoekstra said he would have done:

"No. 1, they could have gone directly to the President. That is the first point. There is not a long chain of command. I think it has been reported that my first briefing included the Vice President. If I felt uncomfortable, I could have gone directly to the Vice President and expressed my opinions there and demanded a meeting with the President. I think I would have gotten it.

"As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I represent the equities of the speaker of the House. I am selected by the speaker to represent him on a daily basis on the Intelligence Committee. There is nothing that would have stopped me from going directly to the speaker of the House and saying, ‘Mr. Speaker, I got briefed on this program yesterday and I believe there are serious concerns about this, I need your help and we need to go to the administration and we need to have these issues and these concerns addressed.’

"Then, there is the third step: We write the authorizing language each and every year. The authorizing language is classified. We have very capable staff. We could have come up with a very creative way of writing the language that would have prohibited a program like this without many of our colleagues even knowing what we were talking about. You have some of the most powerful people in Congress and in the country and they are now walking out and saying ‘There is nothing we could have done.’ Give me a break."