Saturday, February 7, 2009

More Proof the Right Wing Doesn't Get Technology

... or, Why "Republican" and "National Security" don't belong in the same sentence.

A delegation led by House Minority Leader John A. Boehner , R-Ohio, arrived in Iraq earlier today, and because of Rep. Peter Hoekstra , R-Mich., the entire world — or at least readers—now know they’re there.

“Just landed in Baghdad,” messaged Hoekstra, a former chairman of the Intelligence panel and now the ranking member, who is routinely entrusted to keep some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets.

Steve Benen skewers the situation admirably:

Remember, Hoekstra chaired the Intelligence Committee. He deals with classified information on a daily basis, and has received extensive instructions on how to keep national security secrets under wraps.

And yet, Hoekstra, who was told not to talk about this trip, not only shared its existence on Twitter, but "included details about their itinerary in updates posted every few hours on his Twitter page."

This harks back to Ted Stevens' comments about Intertubes that highlighted just how out-of-step the GOP is with technology. Hoekstra either didn't know (which for a House Intelligence Committee member is appalling) or didn't care (which is downright criminal) that his posts were public and available to the globe. Ignorance of such things from someone in his position speaks loudly about his [un]fitness for his appointment. The converse - that he leaked the details of the itinerary consciously and deliberately - implies a cynical, callous move to drive public opinion by engineering a potential unnecessary slaughter of prominent officials (and his peers) just to score political points.

The part that strikes me most powerfully is that we have a Congressman who has served for some time on the Intelligence Committee, who presumably knows the trip is supposed to be secret for security reasons, blabbing to the entire Twitter community about the experience in startling (if miskeyed) detail. Which makes one think that if he did this just this week, he's likely been just as chatty before, and has made statements via Twitter that might compromise safety: the nation's, the Congress' and his own personal safety as well.

Anyone who did this doesn't deserve to get hired as a bouncer at a strip club, never mind serve in the House of Representatives on the Intelligence Committee, because clearly security is something he just does not understand. One can only imagine what pandemonium would have ensued if someone reading the whole thing had actually used the narrative to strike at the visitors: while I can't say that finding Boehner or Hoekstra removed from the House a particularly unwelcome circumstance, I'd certainly not wish that achieved by them having been shot or bombed as could have happened here.

If Boehner has an ounce of integrity left, he'll find something less risky for Hoekstra to do. If he does not, after an incident like this (where not only Hoekstra but the entire delegation - including Boehner himself - was put at risk), then we have yet more evidence that national security doesn't matter to the GOP unless it involves more loot for the DoD and the "security contractors," more soldiers in more foreign countries or more US citizens' communications to monitor.

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