The ITT List
Friday Oct 20, 2006 10:22 pm
Republicans: Accuse and Judge Guilty, No Evidence Needed Except Sheer Fantasy Conjecture
Walter Pincus in WaPo reports
The Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence suspended a mid-level Democratic staffer Tuesday based on a suspicion that he may have been connected to the leak of a politically damaging intelligence report almost a month ago, according to Republican and Democratic congressional sources..
The action by Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), which has drawn sharp criticism from Democratic panel members, was described by legislators of both parties as another example of the increased partisan infighting that has damaged the workings of the intelligence panel during this election year
The initial accusation against Hanauer was made to Hoekstra more than three weeks ago in a letter from Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), a committee member. The charge was based on a "coincidence" that the Democratic staffer obtained the document, at the request of a member, two days before stories about its contents were published. "I have no credible information to say any classified information was leaked from the committee's minority staff. . . . This may in fact be only coincidence and simply 'look bad,' " LaHood said in his letter, but he requested a formal inquiry.
LaHood defended his letter in a telephone interview yesterday. "Why was there this coincidence? . . . That's what the investigation should be about," he said.
Three days before publication of the Times story, on Sept. 20, Rep. John F. Tierney (D-Mass.), a member of the intelligence panel, received a media inquiry about the NIE, according to a statement his office released yesterday. Tierney said yesterday that he knew nothing about it but called over to the Democratic staff and asked whether such a report had been received. The staff member talked to the committee security officer, who said such reports had not been put on an internal, secure Web site because of technical problems, according to a committee staff member who asked not to be identified.
Hanauer and the security officer called the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which had produced the NIE, and a copy of the secret document was delivered the next day, Sept. 21. The staff member took a hard copy to Tierney, and the committee security officer scanned it into the panel's classified Web site, making it available to all committee members. Tierney said that after he read it and saw it was classified he refused to discuss it with reporters.
"I don't know why they came down on this fellow," Tierney said.