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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Hastings Returns Fire And Misses

The LA Times ran a story today regarding Rep. Alcee Hastings. Rep. Hastings is the choice from Nancy Pelosi to head up the House Intelligence Committee over Rep. Jane Harman. Speaker Pelosi has made this decision because she believes he would be harder on the Bush administration when it comes to the war.

Competition for the post of chairman of the House Intelligence Committee intensified Wednesday with the release of a letter by Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.), who says he deserves the job despite the fact that as a federal judge he was convicted by the Senate and removed from the bench after being impeached for involvement in a bribery plot.

In a rambling letter sent to Democratic members of the House, Hastings lashed out at his critics, saying they were bent on "denying me a position I have certainly earned and am completely competent to perform." ...

... Hastings, 70, has largely stayed on the sidelines during this fight, refusing repeated requests for comment.

He ended that silence Wednesday, but it is unclear whether the meandering five-page missive will help his case or hurt it.

In the letter, Hastings decries "the noise and misleading, poorly informed, misinformed, and sometimes venomous attacks on my integrity and character by pundits, politicians, and editors screaming the word 'impeachment.' "

He stresses that he was removed from the bench even though he had been acquitted in a 1983 criminal trial stemming from allegations that he had conspired to accept a $150,000 bribe in return for granting a lenient sentence to two defendants convicted in his court of racketeering. ...

...In his letter, Hastings singles out conservative commentators who have attacked his candidacy for the chairmanship, as well as "anonymous bloggers and other assorted misinformed fools."

It does not matter if a court did not convict him. The court proceedings occurred after the impeachment. And it seemed tot he Congress at the time that he had, indeed, committed a crime that ran contrary to the "good Behavior" that the Constitution dictates for federal judges.

Interestingly, the story points out that Speaker Pelosi may have a back-up in mind in case the caucus (smartly) rebukes her. That person is Silvestre Reyes. Rep. Reyes had a career with INS, and is a former Vietnam veteran. But he was also the one picked by Pelosi to lead the fight in the House against the Sensenbrenner immigration bill because it was too "mean-spirited." Neither man, at this point, seems right for the job, and only speculation seems to answer why Speaker Pelosi wants Rep. Harman off of that committee.

Rep. Hastings can spin his past crimes all that he would like, but it fails to pass the smell test. He was impeached for his corruption. And according to NRO's Byron York Rep. Hastings blew an FBI investigation in Florida:

That left Article 16, the one accusation against Hastings that did not stem from the original criminal case. Article 16 stuck out from the rest, not only because it came from information that surfaced in the House’s investigation of Hastings but because it pointed to a wider pattern of alleged misconduct in Hastings’ performance as a judge. This is what Article 16 said:

From July 15, 1985, to September 15, 1985, Judge Hastings was the supervising judge of a wiretap instituted under chapter 119 of title 18, United States Code…The wiretap was part of certain investigations being conducted by law enforcement agents of the United States.

As supervising judge, Judge Hastings learned highly confidential information obtained through the wiretap. The documents disclosing this information, presented to Judge Hastings as the supervising judge, were Judge Hastings’ sole source of the highly confidential information.On September 6, 1985, Judge Hastings revealed highly confidential information that he learned as the supervising judge of the wiretap, as follows:

On the morning of September 6, 1985, Judge Hastings told Stephen Clark, the Mayor of Dade County, Florida, to stay away from Kevin “Waxy” Gordon, who was “hot” and was using the mayor’s name in Hialeah, Florida.

As a result of this improper disclosure, certain investigations then being conducted by law enforcement agents of the United States were thwarted and ultimately terminated.

But Rep. Hastings assures the caucus that he would handle national intelligence secrets with the utmost care. I really wish we could take Rep. Hastings at his word, but his past is haunting him right now, and this fight is shaping up to be a brutal one for not only him, but Speaker Pelosi as well. While she does have the right to choose whom she wishes for the committees, she could very well irritate the caucus when she should be reaching out to them and working with them.

And she has no one to blame but herself. She should have known better with the Murtha-for-majority-leader fight that backfired. The caucus did not want the extremism of John Murtha leading the House Democrats because those same Democrats knew it would be a death knell for them in 2008. America would reject such ideas at the polls, especially ideas that call for us to retreat from battle. The election of Steny Hoyer to the leadership post should have sent a clear message to Speaker Pelosi that the extreme Left is not going to be tolerated by her caucus, but apparently this notion has yet to sink in.

Rep. Hastings can say what he wishes in his own defense. He is entitled to that. However, attacking his critics does not solve the issue or help his case. He should be proving us wrong in our assertions. As yet, he has done nothing of the sort. He has swung back at his critics, in typical Democrat fashion, by labling us and calling his detractors names. We have a right to question his ascension to this important committee. And we had just as much of a right to question Sen. Leahy's leaking of intelligence matters when he chaired the Senate Select Intelligence Committee; an action that cost him his seat there.

IF Rep. Hastings is a "changed man," then let him prove it. As yet he has provided none, and until it can be proven to the people--to the caucus, and the house, as a whole--we will stand against him being placed there. Furthermore, Speaker Pelosi should remember that in this day and age, Washington, DC is no longer isolated from the outside world.

Bloggers have done an effective job of being involved in the political machinations of that town. We showed it during the Roberts and Alito hearings, during the debate over the Gang of 14 deal, over the Dubai Ports deal, over Harriet Miers, over out-of-control pork spending in Congress, etc., etc. In short, if she puts him up there, he will be under a microscope, and one wrong misstep could cost him and her greatly.

Can Speaker Pelosi afford another political mistake this early in the game? We are betting on her pride and ego to outweigh the common sense that it is wrong and improper to place a former impeached federal official to such an important committee. And when push comes to shove, her choice is either going to embarrass her with his incompetence, or from past behavior he claims he has left behind.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good blog. I'm withholding my opinion on Pelosi on this matter until I see who she appoints. Hastings and Harmon she not sit on the committee let alone chair it.

5:22 PM  

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