Dear Senator Rockefeller:
The Committee's Staff Director received your letter to me dated January 24, 2006 this morning. I understand that the letter has yet to be filed with the Chief Clerk as required by Rule 1.3. I am sure this is just a staff oversight. Our rules notwithstanding, however, yesterday, before your letter was delivered, I had already called for a meeting of the Committee to discuss the terrorist surveillance issue as well as Phase II and other matters. That meeting was noticed yesterday to all liaison staff and will be held on February 16, 2006. In addition, all liaison staff were notified of my intent to have a Department of Justice official brief the Committee on the legal issues surrounding the terrorist surveillance program on February 1, 2006.
While I welcome written communication from you and the Democrat members of the Committee, perhaps, in this instance, better communication between members and liaison staff would have avoided the need to invoke the Committee's Rules of Procedure to request that which you had already been granted. I also would ask, as a professional courtesy, that I be given an opportunity to respond to your written requests before you release them to the press. I believe that it would go a long way toward fostering a more cooperative and nonpartisan working atmosphere - something absolutely necessary in the conduct of our oversight of the intelligence activities of the United States.
I think we can all agree that intelligence issues, especially in the middle of a war, should not be used as fodder for political advantage. Doing so is unnecessary, unwise and potentially dangerous. Whatever course the Committee takes, our first obligation is to ensure that the nation does not relive the horror that was visited upon it on September 11, 2001. To do so, we must put politics aside and do everything possible to protect the American people from further attacks.
I look forward to working with you and the members of the Committee toward that goal.