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Hoekstra's failure of self-awareness

Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) ran for governor in Michigan a couple of years ago, and fared quite poorly. This year, he's running for the U.S. Senate, though his campaign stumbled badly after airing a racist ad during the Super Bowl in February.

Now, however, Hoekstra has a new issue to sink his teeth into, which he hopes will give his campaign a boost: national security leaks. Here's the audio of a new radio ad reaching Michigan airwaves this week:

For those who can't listen to audio online, the ad tells listeners, in part:

"Hi, this is Pete Hoekstra. As a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, I know a thing or two about keeping our country safe. It's absolutely clear that the latest intelligence leaks that some say are coming from or maybe even authorized by the White House have done serious damage to our national security. America is at risk."Anybody who leaks highly classified information is either an amateur who has no idea how much damage they've done, or they're traitors to our country."

Look, I realize Republicans are worked up about alleged leaks, and Hoekstra is looking for some new hook, but if there's one issue the candidate should go to any lengths to avoid, it's this one.

The record is clear, and for Hoekstra, should be deeply embarrassing.

To reiterate an item from a couple of weeks ago, Hoekstra would probably prefer to forget, but when he was in Congress, he confirmed to the Washington Post, on the record, that Nidal Malik Hasan had exchanged emails with Anwar al-Awlaki. As Rachel reported at the time, it was a problematic revelation -- that federal officials had kept secret for a reason.

Marc Ambinder followed up today with senior intelligence officials who said there were "concerns" about Hoekstra's loose lips. The Republican lawmaker, who was routinely briefed on some of the nation's most sensitive national security secrets, apparently tipped a radical cleric to surveillance efforts and inadvertently confirmed "a sensitive capability that the N.S.A. regularly employs to collect intelligence."

A former intelligence official privy to details of the NSA's programs said that it "would appear to be the case" that Hoekstra divulged too much information.

What's more, in August 2007, Hoekstra wrote an op-ed condemning leaks, but the op-ed itself included a leak with classified information about U.S. intelligence budgets.

In November 2006, Hoekstra pushed the Bush administration to publish online a vast archive of Iraqi documents captured during the war. The idea was to let far-right bloggers "prove" that Saddam had WMD, but Hoekstra's plan led to the accidental release of secret nuclear research.

And in 2009, it was Hoekstra who was supposed to keep secret his itinerary in Iraq, but who instead broadcasted his whereabouts on Twitter.

Hoekstra, in other words, leaked like a sieve. "Anybody who leaks highly classified information is either an amateur who has no idea how much damage they've done, or they're traitors to our country"? Seriously?