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U.S. Rep. Hoekstra tapped to chair House committee overseeing intelligence issues

Gained reputation as a reformer

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

WASHINGTON - The recent intelligence agencies' shake-up in the U.S. adminstration has propelled Dutch-born U.S. Representative Peter Hoekstra (R. Holland, MI.) into a key role in the impending reform of how the American government gathers and processes information gathered by the Central Intelligence Agency CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). Hoekstra, 50, was named chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as successor of Porter Goss who was tapped by President Bush to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

The appointments were made in de wake of the release of the September 11 Commission report which, among other things, recommended the creation of a national intelligence director to oversee all intelligence agencies. Hoekstra who in Washington gained a reputation as a reformer by tackling controversial issues, supports such a move.

The Holland, Mi. representative has served on the Intelligence Committee since 2001and has made several trips to Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.

As a reformer, Hoekstra gained national attention for investigating and democratizing the Teamsters Union. He also spearheaded the battle to reign in on the 70-year monopoly of Prison Industries, a federal agency, for, among others, furniture contracts. According to the Grand Rapids Press, Hoekstra has proven himself a polished spokesman for the cause of the Republican Party. In recent months, he also has become an increasing presence on political news shows, including The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, CNN and Fox News.


Hoekstra who started his political career as an outsider, bounced his wellknown predecessor U.S. Rep. Guy Vanderjagt, a 26-year veteran, in the Republican primary in 1992.The Holland representative every year tours his Western Michigan district on a bicycle. The former furniture company executive so far has refused to set up a Washington household, preferring to sleep on a couch in his office and go home to his family for the weekends.

Not everyone in Western Michigan is happy with Hoekstra's rising star. A former district GOP chairman recently commented that the Rep. has become a career politician and a political insider who now ignores his promise to keep to a 12-year term limit.

The Groningen-born politician emigrated with his family to the U.S. when he was about 6 years old. His parents hailed from Echtenerbrug, Friesland.