By Kara Rowland, The Washington Times
A top lawmaker on the House intelligence committee said Sunday the Obama administration is withholding information about the botched Times Square bombing from Congress, continuing a pattern in which Capitol Hill isn’t getting the information it needs to conduct oversight.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the panel’s ranking Republican, said he agrees with the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate intelligence committee, who last week sent a letter to the White House accusing the administration of putting national security in jeopardy by failing to keep lawmakers apprised of the probe into suspect Faisal Shahzad.
“Having to fight over access to counterterrorism information is not productive and ultimately makes us less secure,” wrote Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein and Vice Chairman Christopher S. Bond in a letter to President Obama on Thursday, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times.
The California Democrat and Missouri Republican said the lack of information has “caused serious friction in the relationship of the committee, on both sides of the aisle, and the executive branch.”
Mr. Hoekstra said the lack of information prevents Congress from evaluating whether the government is adequately prepared to thwart future attacks.
“One of these days there will be an attack, it will be successful, and then people will want to know what was done and why weren’t things done to stop it, and it will all be on the heads of this administration because they ran it and they didn’t involve Congress in the process,” he said. “On the most recent terrorist attacks they’ve given us no opportunity, no invitation to work with them, to enhance or modify our intelligence tools â€¦ and that we did everything we could to try to get them to work and be more open about it.”
In the letter, the senators say U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly refused to provide relevant information on the Times Square case that would allow the committee to conduct oversight without hampering the ongoing investigation. Senate intelligence staffers were told that the Department of Justice had instructed the agencies not to convey information on the Times Square plot without its approval, they said.
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