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Hoekstra Twitters Details of Iraq Codel

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, February 6 2009

There's clearly some amount of professional pique mixed into this Congressional Quarterly report that Michigan Republican Pete Hoekstra revealed via Twitter that he and other House members were on a press-embargoed trip to Iraq. But CQ's John Donnelly argues that Hoekstra's tweeting put something even bigger than wounded media pride at stake: the security and safety of the congressional delegation that included Minority Leader John Boehner and Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

Here's Donnelly on how he and other members of the press were thinking about the secrecy around the trip:

Before the delegation left Washington, they were advised to keep the trip to themselves for security reasons. A few media outlets, including Congressional Quarterly, learned about it, but agreed not to disclose anything until the delegation had left Iraq.

Donnelly goes on to reprint Hoekstra's tweets about their arrival in Iraq and their movements in-country, including through Green Zone, on the grounds that that information is "already a matter of public record." How much Hoekstra's posts actually put the codel at any sort of risk isn't clear. Still, you'll have to hop on over to Hoekstra's Twitter feed if you want all the details.

It's interesting. The more common argument you hear against members of Congress on Twitter is that it's simply inappropriate to the position. Electeds, the thinking goes, should be focused on the people's business -- not hunched over a BlackBerry microblogging their every thought or lunch plan. Hoekstra, in fact, was profiled in last week's mildly disapproving Hill story about congressfolk Twittering through a meeting with President Obama.

But Hoekstra's Iraq tweeting will provide some additional ammo for Twitter-questioning commentators, on the grounds that it might, in some hands, pose a security risk.

UPDATE: Here's an added thought. You know how the idea of citizen-journalists can bug some members of the working press? Might be time to add to that list of annoyances "legislator-journalists."