How Many Twittering Politicians Does It Take to Threaten National Security?

Just one, as we learned a few weeks ago in Congressional Quarterly, which reported that Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, regularly Twittered details of his congressional delegation’s visit to Iraq, details that were supposed to be kept secret.

With Twittering politicians on the rise, should we be worried about more national-security threats?

A U.S. Army intelligence report labeled Twitter a “potential terrorist tool” months before Hoekstra’s careless tweets. But as we’ve written previously, banning “potentially dangerous” internet technology is usually more trouble than it’s worth. (But how about mandatory security filters for politicians’ Twitter accounts? Possible code-name: “Sitters.”)

Of course, if Twitter doesn’t find a way to start making money off its users, the problem may take care of itself.

science minded

I guess my question is- there's twitter (of the sort that one would expect) and twatter that really poses a great threat. Does twitter necessary lead to twatter---- with the understanding that twitter is impossible to escape---I think think not!


The problem here is stupidity. A person with a security clearance is supposed to understand what information they can and can't disclose. Hoekstra just showed extraordinarily poor judgment by tweeting details of his classified trip. It's also possible that he just doesn't understand the technology - again, an education issue. For every ignorant user like Hoekstra, there are others like Claire McCaskill, who tweets regularly. Her tweets are informative, but she is self aware enough to know what NOT to disclose.


"she is self aware enough to know what NOT to disclose."

So far, but in time that will change.

science minded

I think Mary has a point.


Don't people with security clearances, like congressman, have to sign the governement equivalent of a non-disclosure agreement??

In other words, make them sign the NDA before the trip, then prosecute them if they violate it.

Hold them personally responsible!


I doubt national security was threatened by Rep Hoekstra's tweets. He was nowhere near President Obama.

science minded

what about the guys who already spent money that they were lent (and that we borrowed to help them get out of hock) on vacations etc. Hindsight is foresight--

Contracts need to be signed and accountability set up in advance-- The free lunch mentality needs to be adjusted to the reality- there is none.


What a great lesson in reality to learn, especially for Democrat legislators, that actions have consequences.

If a Congressperson is ignorant enough to release the kind of information that gets them and others in their party killed, natural selection will quickly remove them from the picture and the smart ones will figure out that rules need to be agreed upon between members of the delegation and just sent down from on high.


Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee? I guess Hoekstra is just proving an oxymoron.


"Potential terrorist tool" = anything sophisticated enough to baffle US Intelligence. So pretty much anything then...


I seriously doubt anything he wrote was actually endangering anyone at all or threatening national security. Careless? Yup. Altering a terrorist in the area who happens to have a surface to air missile and a laptop with an internet connection that happened to be on his twitter page of a potential valuable target? Nope. Interesting media/technology story? Yup. We should not be discouraging politicians from using technology that gives us more access, he should just obviously be more careful and use common sense when on a media embargoed co-del.

More importantly, i think technology (not Twitter specifically) that has the potential to benefit terrorists has perhaps an equal and counter benefits for use by not only for law enforcement, emergency responders and the military but civilians to rapid disburse as much information as possible on whats going on etc (like in Mumbai).

Ed Haines

Congress pretty much exemplifies the classic which door do I select dilemma. They pretty much have to be given access to sensitive material in order to do what ever their job is. However, few of them can be trusted with the material that they must be given. Whichever decision is made is doomed to fail. Maybe Shakespeare had it right but meant Congresspersons, not lawyers?

Todd Royer

How would a security filter work? Would someone have to sit and read all the twitters of all elected politicians? That would be more than an earful.

If there was a reader could the politiican call the reader when he or she said something he wanted to retract and ask the reader to edit it out? Wouldn't a fitler be a time consuming and expensive process?


So many of you guys have broken the rules. 140 characters or you're just waffling.


It's a sorry musician who blames his own instrument.