Letter to Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Mr. Stephen J. Hadley
May 2, 2006
Mr. Stephen J. Hadley
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
National Security Council
The White House
Washington, DC 20504
Dear Mr. Hadley:
On December 22, 2005, I wrote to you requesting the dates and locations of, as well as the names of members of the Senate and House of Representatives who attended briefings on the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program discussed by the President in his December 17, 2005 radio address. You responded on December 29 informing me that you had asked the Director of National Intelligence to provide me with the information I had requested.
The NSA Director has advised me that the information I sought has been sent to the House Intelligence Committee for secure storage because it was "classified and compartmented." It is my understanding that the information provided is confined to a list of names of those who attended the briefings and the dates on which the briefings occurred. This is not national security information by any definition, and I therefore find the decision to classify it to be inconsistent with classification standards and completely without merit.
In the four months between my request and the provision of what I requested, the President, Vice President, Attorney General, and other members of the Administration have repeatedly described publicly portions of the NSA program, to include some of the operational details. The President and the Vice President have asserted regularly that "dozens" of briefings were held for leaders of Congress and of the congressional intelligence committees. To hold that the information covered by those statements was not classified, but that the identities of those briefed and when those briefings took place is, encourages the belief that the Administration makes classification decisions solely for political purposes.
I request that you personally review the decision to classify the response to my letter of December 22 and inform me promptly of your conclusions.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent request.
House Democratic Leader