ABC News’ John R. Parkinson reports:
Rep. Pete Hoekstra, the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Wikileaks data breach is the result of “a system that provided too many points of access” created in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and that the Obama Administration is working to keep the full scope of the breach from congressional oversight by the intelligence committee.
“Massive quantities of data should never have been made available in one place at one system, and it should never have been available to as many people as what it was available to. It was an accident waiting to happen. The accident did happen,” Hoekstra, R-Michigan, said. “The Executive Branch ought to be spending its time focus and energy on fixing that problem, assessing the damage, and not trying to figure out how to make sure that this information will not get to the Intelligence Committee.”
Hoekstra said that in past national security breaches, the intelligence committee is historically the first panel in Congress informed about the contents of a breach. But so far, according to Hoekstra, the State Department and the Executive Branch have not provided the committee with the answers to questions and information they have pursued.
“It is [the intelligence committee’s] responsibility to manage and oversee counterterrorism,” Hoekstra said. “To date, the State Department and the executive branch have been unwilling to make available to the committee, to Congress, the content of the breach, the content of the information that has been widely disseminated, first across the Executive Branch, then stolen out of our system, given to Wikileaks, given to media across the world, and the intelligence committee has not yet had access to that information.”
Hoekstra, who is retiring from Congress at the end of the session later this month, said that if the intelligence committee is unable to fully access the leaked contents, it “continues to be difficult for us to assess the exact damage that has been done to national security, been done to the intelligence community, defense, or foreign policy.”
“We continue to press the Executive Branch and the State Department to make that information available to Congress so that we can do an independent assessment of the damage that has been created by these leaks. It is extremely frustrating,” Hoekstra said. “The precedent is [that] when there’s a breach, the intelligence committee is informed almost immediately as to exactly the content of that information.”
But this time around, Hoekstra says the committee is left analyzing the small percentage of cables that have been publically released by Wikileaks and it has prevented the committee from investigating the leak.
“In some cases, it appears that the State Department and other agencies appear to be spending more time, in an interagency process, trying to figure out ways to make sure that information is not given to Congress, it is not forward to Congress, rather than spending the time on what they should be spending their time on, is fixing the problem. This is a systems design problem. This thing should have been designed better,” he added.
Hoekstra also told reporters that he’s not confident that only one source provided all the leaked secret documents.
“I look at this from a systems design standpoint,” Hoekstra said. “The amount of information that was in one place, the number of people that had access to that, the content of that information. No, I’m not at all confident that there was only one source for this information going out.”