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Corrupt Alcee Hastings in Charge of Intelligence Secrets?

Jonathan Weisman reported in yesterday’s WaPo that Nancy Pelosi has promised to rely almost strictly on seniority in appointing committee chairs if the Democrats take the House majority in next month’s elections. The result would be to elevate several controversial Members to key seats, including several members of the Congressional Black Caucus who are demanding this move.

Not surprisingly, this is becoming something of a campaign issue.

In Topeka, Kan., last week, Vice President Cheney singled out three of the most liberal Democrats in the House as foils — Reps. John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), the would-be Judiciary Committee chairman; Henry A. Waxman (Calif.), who is in line to take over the Government Reform Committee; and Barney Frank (Mass.), the senior Democrat on the Financial Services Committee.

While controversial, only Frank’s is a household name outside his district. And the Financial Services Committee isn’t exactly the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children. It’ll be hard to scare many people with the prospect of Frank being in charge of anything after Mark Foley.

Charlie Rangel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee would be scary, too, if Bill Thomas and the Republicans had actually been responsible in spending the taxpayers’ money.

There might be some traction in this, though:

Several moderate-to-conservative Democrats in the House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of fraying party unity, specifically mentioned two members: Conyers, who has already laid out what he says are grounds to impeach President Bush, and Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), a senior Democrat on the intelligence committee, who was impeached and removed from his federal judgeship in 1989 for conspiring to take a $150,000 bribe and give light sentences to two convicted swindlers.

Hastings has already become something of a campaign issue. At a recent event featuring Democratic challenger Heath Shuler, an aide to his opponent, Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.), called out that a Democratic majority would let Hastings into the inner sanctums of the intelligence world.

While there is no doubt a strong plurality who would take great satisfaction in impeaching President Bush, the majority would not. Still, Pelosi could likely rein Conyers in on that.

The Hastings issue is another thing altogether and I’m surprised the Republicans haven’t tried to make more hay out of it. For reasons laid out at length in the article, Pelosi is under enormous pressure from the CBC to elevate Hasting. Yet the idea of putting this sleazebag in a position where he would be privy to the most sensitive national security secrets is untenable. If nothing else, it would virtually ensure that the Bush administration, already ridiculously paranoid about sharing information that Congress rightfully ought have to conduct its oversight duties, would be even more reticent.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mark Foley Head Of The Child Protection Caucus?

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  2. Moonbattery says:

    Hamas-affiliated CAIR. As noted earlier, Ellison’s supporters interrupted his acceptance speech with jihadist cries of “Allahu Akbar!” I wonder if confirmed crook Alcee Hastings will find a place for Ellison on the Intelligence Committee.

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  3. Hamas-affiliated CAIR. As noted earlier, Ellison’s supporters interrupted his acceptance speech with jihadist cries of “Allahu Akbar!” I wonder if confirmed crook Alcee Hastings will find a place for Ellison on the Intelligence Committee.

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  4. Let me introduce you to Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) Rep. Hastings was once a federal judge who was impeached because of some shady deals involving bribery. Now, it’s not too often that a judge appointed for life gets impeached. It’s even more rare that he should then get elected to Congress, but hey, he’s from Florida. Hastings also owes $10-million in debts for legal fees. Lastly, he is the frontrunner for the chairmanship

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  5. their true selves. I hate to imagine what the buggy whip people did to themselves with those things at the end. These are the people who helped give you Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Major Leader Jack Murtha. And Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Alcee Hastings, an impeached former federal judge. Perhaps these infotainment types should stick to Borat. They can do us less harm talking to fictional movie characters.

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  6. And then there is the curious judgment of Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House. When asked if Alcee Hastings will chair the Intelligence committee, she replied yes. This is the same Mr. Hastings who was impeached as a Federal Judge for perjury and corruption, later elected to the House. An impeached judge will now have his fingers in the Intelligence network of a nation at war. Forgive me if I don’t immediately accept that as a reasonable situation.

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  7. Radaractive says:

    him to block any move to extend the tax cuts, thereby in effect raising taxes on Americans across the board. He’s already indicated that this is what he wants…along with starting up the military draft! Alcee Hastings on Intelligence – why isn’t he in jail instead???? That would be as bad as putting Jay “The Leaker” Rockefeller in charge or maybe even worse? John Conyers on Judiciary – the guy who wants to impeach George Bush, a liberal loony to the nth degree.

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  8. to try to ensure the GOPs do not regain any initiative. …All ABC’s Halperin & Co. left out, as far as I can see, is Point #13: Bury the news about the Secure Fence Act (if Bush doesn’t bury it first!), Point #14: Do not mention the name “Alcee Hastings,” and #15: ‘Keep Foley Alive!’ (though that may no longer be possible, even on NPR). … 2:58 P.M. The NY Times is somewhat on board with that, but there is a subtle problem – Jane Harman, the ranking Dem on the House Intelligence Committee who is marked

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  9. too closely to see what their focus group research and polling is telling them is their only winning issue: Mexicans. … All over the country — Democratic candidate X wants to raise your taxes to give Social Security to illegals.” On the right, Outside the Beltway picks up on Washington Postreports that the CBC will pressure a Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to place impeached federal judge Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) as head of the int. cmt. and comments: The Hastings issue is another thing altogether and I’m

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  10. Cernig says:

    James,

    I agree entirely that those who have shown a previous prediliction for corruption have no business in public office.

    But as for the Republicans building any kind of argument on that basis? It’s impossible to build upward when your foundation is a swamp!

    Regards, C

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  11. McGehee says:

    Unfortunately for the Democrats, that argument cuts against them too.

    Which I gather is James’ point.

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  12. jpe says:

    To claim that Bush would be more reticent, one has to believe that Bush’s hyper-secrecy is based on a pragmatic concern over leaks, rather than an ideological committment to a super-strong executive.

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  13. Anderson says:

    I suspect that, if the Dems do retake the House, Pelosi’s opinion on Hastings will change within moments of her election as Speaker.

    The CBC will be able to cry all it wants, but they’d end up forfeiting their power by making Hastings their line in the sand.

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  14. Kent G. Budge says:

    Alcee L. Hastings (Fla.), a senior Democrat on the intelligence committee, who was impeached and removed from his federal judgeship in 1989 for conspiring to take a $150,000 bribe and give light sentences to two convicted swindlers.

    So how did this sleazebag get elected in the first place? I mean, the Democrats must have known this guy was a sleazebag before they voted for him, right? And why didn’t the House refuse to seat him?

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  15. Bandit says:

    For reasons laid out at length in the article, Pelosi is under enormous pressure from the CBC to elevate Hasting. Yet the idea of putting this sleazebag in a position where he would be privy to the most sensitive national security secrets is untenable.

    Untenable to whom? The only good thing about having the Dems take control of congress is that it will take them about a half an hour to expose themselves as the power hungry criminals, traitors and lunatics that they are.

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  16. Tano says:

    Nice try Bandit,

    I actually think it will take them about 12 years to show that, if they are as bad as the GOP. But I dont think they are really that bad.

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  17. [...] The remarkable thing is that even in the midst of the political chaos, the Democrats have seemed unable to generate a positive reason to elect them. I wonder, also given the lack of enthusiasm for the Democrats coupled with the likely spectacle that will occur in the House with Chairman such as Conyers and Hastings as to how long the Democrats will be able to hold onto the House once they obtain it. Filed under: US Politics, 2006 Elections | |Send TrackBack [...]

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  18. [...] Mickey Kaus has a few additions: Point #13: Bury the news about the Secure Fence Act (if Bush doesn’t bury it first!), Point #14: Do not mention the name “Alcee Hastings,” and #15: ‘Keep Foley Alive!’ (though that may no longer be possible, even on NPR). [...]

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  19. jeff says:

    So how did this sleazebag get elected in the first place? I mean, the Democrats must have known this guy was a sleazebag before they voted for him, right?

    You’re being ironical, right? Surely you remember Marion Barry? How about Cynthia McKinney? Or the swimmer himself, Ted Kenedy – killer of young women, collaborator with enemy states?

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  20. Californio says:

    Read “The Jacksonian Tradition” – it spells it all out. Inside politics BS is great! I hope it energizes the people

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  21. Hastings Supporters says:

    We are strong supporters of Alcee Hastings who has fought tirelessly to support the cause for America’s working citizens. Is anyone knowledgeable enough to have read ALL the transcripts of the hearings on Hastings’ conduct?

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  22. Cracker says:

    If the criminal Hastings takes the Chair, Bush and his Administration should formally refuse to provide info to Congress until he is removed.

    They would be justified in doing so, and for the country’s safety, I hope Bush has the stones to “draw a line in the sand”.

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