Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top-ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, is under fire for using Twitter to tell reporters that a group of officials were going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Anonymous sources have criticized Hoekstra for putting the entire delegation at risk by the security breach. It was an ironic twist for Hoekstra who has led calls for tough measures on staffers and other members accused of releasing classified or sensitive information, including my former client Larry Hanauer, a House Intelligence Committee staff member who was later cleared of all charges of leaking such information.
A Defense Department spokesman, Navy Cdr. Darryn James, said said that the information was viewed as sensitive and that travel into these high-risk areas is closely guarded from public release. James said that Hoekstra’s release of the information to the media has led to a review of how to secure the information in the future.
The media is quoting former staffers and contractors who are aghast at the use of Twitter to disclose such information. One former Armed Service staffer said, “By relaying that information and telegraphing what they were doing, he probably placed people in harm’s way. It’s just common sense.”
In the Hanauer case, Hoekstra and now Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushed for possible prosecution even though it was clear that Hanauer was not the source for a leak to the New York Times. Hanauer was kept under investigation and on suspension until after the election and then promptly cleared.
Hoekstra also led a hearing (at which I testified) on whether reporters should be prosecuted for receiving classified information and whether greater penalties should be passed against those who give such information to the media.
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