July 8, 2006

Ally warned Bush on spying: report

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A key Congressional ally of President
Bush sent a sharply worded letter to the president in May
warning that the administration might have broken the law by
failing to inform Congress of some secret intelligence
programs, The New York Times reported in Sunday editions.

Peter Hoekstra, the Republican chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee, was clearly referring to programs that
have not been publicly revealed, the Times said.

Hoekstra was among those who were briefed on, and
supported, the National Security Agency's controversial
domestic surveillance program and the Treasury Department's
tracking of international banking transactions, the Times said.

"I have learned of some alleged intelligence community
activities about which our committee has not been briefed,"
Hoekstra wrote.

"If these allegations are true, they may represent a breach
of responsibility by the administration, a violation of the
law, and, just as importantly, a direct affront to me and the
members of this committee who have so ardently supported
efforts to collect information on our enemies," the Times
quoted the letter as saying.

The Times noted that since his appointment as committee
chairman in 2004, Hoekstra has been a major White House ally on
intelligence matters, supporting controversial policies
including the treatment of terrorist suspects.

Intelligence officials have appeared at two closed
committee briefings to answer questions from Hoekstra and other
members which eased some concerns from the lawmakers about
whether the Bush administration is sharing information on all
of its intelligence operations, the Times said.

The domestic spying program, which Bush ordered soon after
the September 11 attacks, allows the National Security Agency
to monitor the international phone calls and e-mails of U.S.
citizens without first obtaining warrants if in pursuit of al
Qaeda suspects. The program has stirred an outcry among
civil-rights groups and lawmakers who believe Bush overstepped
his constitutional authority.