U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers unexpectedly announced last week that he will not run for re-election this fall and will step down in January as chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.
Rogers, a Michigan Republican, has been an effective chairman of the committee and was able to push forward important legislation, including the bipartisan Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2013.
Rogers has also forcefully rebutted the many false claims made by NSA leaker Edward Snowden and pointed out the likelihood that Snowden was working for Russian intelligence.
By way of full disclosure, I like Chairman Rogers and worked closely with him during my five years on the House Intelligence Committee staff. He consistently demonstrated his interest in robust congressional oversight of intelligence and would never allow intelligence community witnesses to evade his questions during committee hearings.
During his time on the committee, Rogers has been committed to meeting with CIA officers around the world. He became so well known for leading intelligence committee delegations to dangerous areas of Pakistan that an intelligence official once described this area as "Mr. Rogers' neighborhood" during a committee hearing.
Rogers told Newsmax in a March 28 interview that he thinks he can have a bigger voice away from Washington by taking advantage of an offer made to him by Cumulus Media to host a show on its radio network. He told Newsmax that was the biggest factor in his decision to leave Congress.
I have no reason to doubt this, and I believe Mike Rogers will be an effective and compelling radio host. However, Rogers has also indicated that other factors affected his decision.
Rogers acknowledged to Newsmax that "certainly the polarization was a factor."
He told Fox News that his decision was in part owing to "celebrity politicians" in national security debates and said the quality of national security discussions in Washington "worries me for the future of this country like nothing I've ever seen," and that he hoped to remedy the problem as a talk show host.
Rogers’ celebrity politicians are those who have been ignoring the work of the congressional intelligence committees by claiming Congress has been kept in the dark about intelligence programs that they claim are compromising the privacy of ordinary Americans.
These celebrity politicians have also been quick to call a former NSA contract technician a whistleblower, despite the enormous damage he has done to U.S. national security.
Until a few years ago, House and Senate members entrusted the intelligence committees to oversee sensitive intelligence programs on their behalf. There was a consensus that open discussions of these programs without a full understanding of their details would be harmful to U.S. interests.
This is no longer the case. Today, too many members of Congress cannot resist the temptation to score easy political points by scaring the American people about intelligence programs. Rogers has expressed his frustration about this in TV interviews. He may have decided to leave Congress because he became fed up with his colleagues constantly engaging in such irresponsible behavior.
I hope Mike Rogers will be successful in his new radio career, but I am sorry that political polarization and congressional grandstanding on intelligence played a role in persuading such an effective intelligence chairman to leave before his term on the committee was up.
I hope the committee under its new chairman will double down on its efforts to fight politicization of intelligence – both by the executive branch and the Congress – and continue to work to protect crucial intelligence collection programs from unfair attacks by traitors like Snowden and anyone foolish enough to believe what he has to say.
Fred Fleitz served for 25 years with the CIA, the State Department, and the House Intelligence Committee staff. He is currently chief analyst with LIGNET.com, Newsmax Media’s global intelligence and forecasting service. Read more reports from Fred Fleitz — Click Here Now.
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