VERBATIM

Did Hoekstra Begin Note to Negroponte With 'Dear John'?

Friday, June 30, 2006

The chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), yesterday wrote Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to strongly complain about a background briefing for reporters on June 21 organized by Negroponte's staff. The conference call allowed reporters to question four intelligence officials on declassified key points of a study, produced by the Army's National Ground Intelligence Center (NGIC), on hazards to troops in Iraq of old chemical shells and rockets, about 500 of which had been discovered since 2004.

-- Walter Pincus

Some excerpts:

First, I am very disappointed by the inaccurate, incomplete, and occasionally misleading comments made by the briefers in two key instances:

? The briefers attempted to portray my requests to declassify the document as demanding that the document be released "in short order" within a 48 hour time frame, creating the impression that I pressured your office to conduct a hurried declassification review. This is false and you know it to be false. The document was first requested by Sen. Santorum from the U.S. Army on April 12. He subsequently made a personal request to you for the material on June 5. He received no response to either. . . . This lack of responsiveness by the Intelligence Community is what lead Sen. Santorum to seek my help in the first place.

? The briefers mislead the journalists by stating that "The priority of the ISG [Iraqi Survey Group] was to look for post-Desert Storm munitions, newer stuff. It was not looking for older stuff and so this doesn't really bear on the issue." This assertion is demonstrably false. . . .

Because this call was organized by your office, I assume that you authorized and were familiar with its content. I would appreciate an explanation and correction of these inaccurate and misleading assertions.

Second, I am concerned . . . your office provided a transcript of the call to the committee with the names of the briefers removed. . . . You should be trying to stop anonymous discussion of classified information by persons unwilling to associate their names with their assertions rather than sanctioning and promoting it. . . .

Third, I have additional concerns regarding classified matters that I will raise in a classified format.

I look forward to your response.


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