The former head of the House Intelligence Committee says Nancy Pelosi and Congressional leadership "would have known" about the now-controversial NSA spying program after 9/11.
Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) initially told TheBlaze TV's Andrew Wilkow that Pelosi definitive knew about the spy program that's been found to have gathered bulk metadata, among other things. Recent allegations have even said the program has gathered data from "leaky" apps such as the popular game Angry Birds. He wavered slightly on that assessment, but then doubled-down.
"Nancy Pelosi knew that this was going on," Hoekstra told Wilkow, after admitting he himself knew it was going on back in 2004.
Hoekstra, who chaired the committee from 2004-2007, clarified that he thought Pelosi "would" have known, but that quickly gave way to a more confident statement: "Nancy Pelosi would have known almost immediately in the aftermath of 9/11…that this program was being implemented. ... The top intelligence officials and representatives in the House and Senate and the leadership of the House and the Senate, they've known about this program since early in its inception."
"But it was so different during the Bush years, right?" Wilkow asked.
"It's expanded," Hoekstra admitted. "But the bottom line is they would have all known, OK?"
When Wilkow brought up the Fourth Amendment, Hoekstra said that such leadership would "disagree" that they were violating such a measure.
"But you can't say they didn't know, they knew," he said emphatically, later implicating even Republicans Mike Rogers and Peter King.
Pelosi sat on the House Intelligence Committee after 9/11 and has been critical of domestic spying. She called a report in the fall about the NSA violating policies thousands of times "extremely disturbing." Still, she voted against a Republican-led effort to roll back NSA spying in the fall (and reports say even lobbied fellow Democrats to vote against it).
To be fair, she could have supported the program as it was originally implemented and not what it's become. But that may not silence critics who are trying to reconcile Hoekstra's claims about her knowing, her criticism of spying programs (even this spying program), and her recent vote. To them, it may all be hypocritical (one prominent outlet called her vote and lobbying an "odd turn").
As for Hoekstra, he has consistently been against public disclosure of NSA techniques. As far back as 2006 he criticized President Bush and the New York Times for revealing NSA tacticts in the fight against terror. He argued this summer in a debate with Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who helped Edward Snowden break news of the extent of the NSA spying program, that Snowden's releasing of the information has been detrimental to fighting terror.
[sharequote align="left"]"[T]he bottom line is they would have all known"[/sharequote]
"Spying is a matter of fact," Hoekstra said at the time. "The mistake that we made is that we had a NSA that did not put in the protections that it need to protect [it] ... they enabled someone like Edward Snowden to steal our documents and steal our national securities to the world."
He added to USA Today: "We need to recognize the environment we face today is as dangerous if not more dangerous than we experienced in 2001. And in that type of environment intelligence is the tip of the spear to keep America safe."
He's even said that the public needs to be reassured about importance of NSA spying.
Watch the clip below: