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Rep. Myrick and the Xenophobia Card: Violation of House Rules on National Security?

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It is almost as if the House Intelligence Committee member is having an "out of body" experience. Is it not odd that someone sitting on a powerful committee that exercises oversight over the entire national intelligence community should resort to asking accusatory questions--in regard to claims of Hezbollah terrorists on the Mexican border--in outside settings where it is difficult to hold her accountable rather than directly addressing them to agency officials who can be readily summoned before her committee?

Once again the Charlotte Observer has reported the keep-me-awake-at-night "worries" of Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) over Hezbollah operating on the Mexican-American border. (

Myrick Wants Task Force to Study Hezbollah Ties on Border: Administration Says It has No Credible Evidence of a Threat of Terrorist Group Activity Along Border with Mexico,

September 9.) Yet, no significant new evidence is offered to back up her headline-grabbing suggestion. Rather, the Homeland Security Department--as reported by McClatchy reporter Barbara Barrett--has stated again that it has no credible evidence of activity by the U.S.-designated terrorist group along that border. It is almost as if Ms. Myrick is having a deliberately

out of Congress

experience, based on little more than her alarmist imagination. Is it not peculiar that this freshman member of the House Intelligence Committee relies upon old tales of tattoos (in Farsi) seen on border-crossers, an obscure reference in a weapons-trafficking federal case in New York state, and a comparison of how tunnels are dug in Mexico and Israel, to fashion her sensationalist theory? One wonders if she is garnering speculative, anecdotal bits of information in that very secretive committee; and then searching for some outside human source--however problematical or misinformed--that she can link them to.

Is it not odd that someone sitting on a powerful committee that exercises oversight over the entire national intelligence community (DHS, CIA, FBI, NSA, et.al.) should resort to asking accusatory questions in out-of Congress settings--where she cannot be held accountable--rather than directly addressing them to officials from these agencies who can be readily summoned before her committee?

To quote from Myrick in a September 2 Washington Times op-ed provocatively entitled

Myrick: Hezbollah Car Bombs on Our Border

:

Doesn't the protection of the American public deserve answers? Unfortunately, the Administration continues to sit by idly while security threats go uninvestigated.

But the Congresswoman offered no evidence for such a serious charge, other than Secretary Janet Napolitano's decision not to form a "task force" requested by Myrick. Note: DHS has not said that it refused to investigate the alleged threat. She followed up the opinion piece with a video posted on her official website--DHS' seal is intermittently superimposed--entitled

Update: Hezbollah on the Southern Border

about a legal case in New York state in which a link to Hezbollah had been "overlooked." In the video a male voice--using slick graphics--reports on a federal case about a Syrian arms dealer's alleged activities in South America that brought him into contact with FARC in Colombia in an arms-for-drugs deal. Why not speak with her own voice?Notice is drawn in the video to the Representative's own

anecdotal pieces of information

about Hezbollah activities on the Mexican-American border

obtained from former counter-terrorism officials

. With a photo of the Charlotte Observer in the background, the video then pictures an abbreviated quote from a DHS spokesperson contained in the June 30 issue of the paper under

Myrick Calls for Look into Terrorists on S.W. Border: Congresswoman Believes Hezbollah is in Mexico.

At the close of the Myrick website video this loaded question is posed:

Why does the Department of Homeland Security refuse to acknowledge the threat and, at the very least, look into it?

Ms. Myrick (R-NC), when speaking at events in her district, frequently touts her membership on the House Intelligence Committee and poses as an expert on terrorism at home and abroad. Given the fact that she constantly refers to her Intelligence Committee membership when publicly discussing various threats from terrorists that have not been currently reported in the national press, is she not in violation of section 12 of Committee rules?

Vide: "Members shall not at any time, either during that person's tenure as a Member of the Committee, or anytime thereafter, discuss or disclose, or cause to be discussed or disclosed:

(A) The classified substance of the work of the Committee;
(B) Any information received by the Committee in executive session;
(C) Any classified information received by the Committee from any source; or
(D) The substance of any hearing that was closed to the public pursuant to these rules or the Rules of the House."

No committee member politically exploits their access to classified information to the extent that Congresswoman Myrick does, in disregard of national security. Either she is authoritatively informed on terrorist activities, or she is not. I charge that her public statements make her subject to reprimand, if not expulsion, by the House of Representatives.

[As the chief legislative assistant for national security to the Senate Majority Whip, I was substantively involved in writing the rules for the original Senate Intelligence Committee--chaired by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho)--which served as the model for the House Intelligence Committee.]

[Modified and expanded on October 4, 2010]