HOEKSTRA, THE HUMAN SIEVE…. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R) of Michigan has long been a world-class buffoon. We are, after all, talking about a conservative lawmaker who held a press conference in 2006 to announce, “We have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” The ridiculous claim was quickly debunked.

But this week, Hoekstra is breaking new ground. The Michigan Republican, who happens to be the ranking GOP lawmaker on the House Intelligence Committee, is now trying to exploit the Nidal Hasan shootings from last week for some kind of perverse political gain. Hoekstra told reporters, for example, that Hasan is believed to have sent emails to a radical cleric in Yemen, and then received emails back. As Rachel Maddow explained on MSNBC last night, that wasn’t information intended for the public.

“Why is it Pete Hoekstra who’s taking it upon himself to tell the press that this radical cleric is having his email read by U.S. intelligence agencies?” Rachel asked. “The FBI had not said publicly that this cleric had been emailing Hasan. The CIA, the NSA, the White House… nobody else had reported this cleric was e-mailing Hasan. This is just Pete Hoekstra letting us know — and letting the radical cleric that is under surveillance know — that he’s under surveillance.”

When asked why Hoekstra had made this revelation, the lawmaker referred MSNBC to the Republican staff of the House Intelligence Committee. When they were asked for an explanation, GOP officials said they “do not know” if Hoekstra released secret information, but they’re “guessing” this wasn’t a problem.

I’d add one other key angle here: Hoekstra tends to share classified information all the time, and has done so for years. 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 earlier this year, it was Hoekstra who was supposed to keep secret his itinerary in Iraq, but who instead broadcasted his whereabouts on Twitter.

Did I mention that Hoekstra is running for governor next year?

That House Republicans made him the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee is embarrassing. That Hoekstra intends to be the chief executive of a state is almost comical.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.