Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, tells National Review Online that the WikiLeaks controversy shows how the White House is keeping Congress in the dark on foreign policy.
On January 1 of this year, Hoekstra was in Yemen on a fact-finding mission. The U.S. ambassador and intelligence officials refused to share certain information with the congressman. “I was angry,” he says. “I flew half way around the world and they wouldn’t share the information with me. . . . Then I read in this cable that the ambassador sent back to the U.S. a day or two later all the stuff that they supposedly weren’t going to tell me but they were willing to share with over 500,000 people on Siprnet,” the government’s online intelligence depository.
Still, Hoekstra’s main concern is the leak’s implications for our national security. “Our government created a database that was a honeypot of information. . . . What does a private need to see that information for?” To prevent further leaks, Hoekstra suggests the government keep the central database but limit access to it. “You just restrict access to certain parts of it. You do that in the business world all the time.”
Although he agrees with calls for the perpetrators’ prosecution, he’s not convinced that Rep. Pete King’s suggestion that the government label WikiLeaks a terrorist organization is feasible. “I wouldn’t get to the point of classifying WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization,” Hoekstra says. “I don’t think under our current framework you could do that. You may be able to get them under espionage, but it’s difficult.”
Whatever Congress decides to do, Hoekstra believes it must not make the same mistake twice. “We had dumb use of cyberspace,” he concludes.