Ronald Kessler reporting from Washington, D.C.
— Contrary to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s claim, the FBI regularly briefs the two top members of the congressional intelligence committees on investigations similar to the bureau’s probe of former CIA Director David Petraeus, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, tells Newsmax.
Explaining why the Justice Department did not inform the White House or the intelligence committees of the Petraeus investigation, Holder said at a news conference in New Orleans last week, “We do not share outside the Justice Department, outside the FBI, the facts of ongoing investigations.
"We made the determination as we were going through the matter that there was not a threat to national security. Had we made the determination that a threat to national security existed, we would of course have made that known to the president and also to the appropriate members on the Hill.”
Based on his six years as chairman or the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, Hoekstra says that in quarterly briefings to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the FBI has in the past revealed that it was investigating possible security breaches or criminal violations by three members of Congress.
In each case, the former Republican congressman from Michigan says, the allegations did not hold up, no threat to national security was uncovered, and no prosecutions resulted.
“The Petraeus investigation would have been something that I would expect to be briefed to the Hill,” Hoekstra says. “I have to imagine that the chairs and ranking members of the committees are absolutely furious that they were not briefed. Not briefing the Hill early on is a breach of protocol.”
As noted in my story "Former FBI Agents Skeptical of Petraeus Probe,"
former FBI agents also question the timing of the FBI investigation, which began last spring, and Holder’s claim that the executive branch was not informed of the probe until 5 p.m. on the day of the election.
Leaving Petraeus in office during the intervening months placed the country at risk because foreign intelligence services which might have learned of his affair could have blackmailed him to obtain national security secrets, former FBI agents say.
“Holder is saying well, of course, we wouldn’t brief an ongoing investigation to Congress, and we wouldn’t tell the president,” Hoekstra says. “No, for over six years I was there as the chair or the ranking member of the committee, and we’d get briefed on a quarterly basis by the FBI.
"They would send over their people, and they would take us through a whole series of things that they were taking a look at that dealt with national security and the beginning of cases or cases that they were finishing investigating.”
In many instances, the cases entailed no national security threats and were less solid than the Petraeus case, Hoekstra says. So, Hoekstra says, “When Holder says we wouldn’t brief Congress on Petraeus, my reaction is, What do you mean? Of course you would brief people on Petraeus. You briefed us on things that had a lot less substance than the Petraeus matter.”
Nor does Hoekstra buy Holder’s claim that President Obama was not informed of the investigation until the day after the election. “My guess is, of course the president knew,” Hoekstra says.
Hoekstra says it is now up to the intelligence committees to investigate why they were not briefed. “These kinds of cases have always been briefed to the intelligence committees and should have been briefed to them,” Hoekstra says. “The fact that they were not and that Holder is claiming such cases are not briefed to the committees looks very, very suspicious.”
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is the New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, FBI, and CIA. Read more reports from Ronald Kessler — Click Here Now.
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