Monday, Jul 16, 2007, 1:23 am
Democrats Sit on Report Which Reveals Intel Committee Links to Duke Cunningham Crimes
Greg Miller for the LA Times reports:
An internal investigation that the House Intelligence Committee has refused to make public portrays the panel as embarrassingly entangled in the Randy "Duke" Cunningham bribery scandal.
The document describes breakdowns in leadership and controls that it says allowed Cunningham — the former congressman (R-Rancho Santa Fe) who began an eight-year prison term last year for taking bribes and evading taxes — to use his House position to steer millions of dollars to corrupt contractors.
When the committee's investigation was completed last year, the Republican-controlled panel would not release the results; now that the committee is controlled by Democrats, it still will not release the findings.
Overall, the document provides a penetrating look into how the committee itself became central to the scandal, describing an atmosphere in which senior aides were deeply troubled by Cunningham's actions but nevertheless complied with his requests out of fear.
But the report and committee members' ongoing disagreement over whether it should be released also reflect the political currents still swirling around the scandal.
For all its finger-pointing at staffers, the document fails to address whether other committee members were aware of Cunningham's abuses or were culpable. For instance, the report avoids any scrutiny of former Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), who was chairman of the panel when Cunningham's most egregious abuses occurred. Goss went on to serve as CIA director, from September 2004 to May 2006.
Democrats complained bitterly a year ago when Republicans blocked release of a declassified version of the final report. But two weeks ago, several Democrats joined Republicans to block the report's release only to other members of Congress. Five Democrats objected to keeping the report secret.
Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), who assumed leadership of the committee after Democrats won control of Congress last fall, said some Democratic members were reluctant to release a document that singled out staff members for criticism.
Congressional sources said Reyes and other Democrats had initially voted to let other members of Congress see the document, but reversed course after a fierce protest by the panel's ranking GOP member, Peter Hoekstra of Michigan.
"They are so nervous about this report being out," said one congressional official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Members oppose putting this thing out because you read this and the natural question is: 'Did you know this, and what did you do about it?' I don't think any members wanted that scrutiny."
The report's principal author said in an interview that the terms under which he was hired to conduct the investigation prevented him from examining lawmakers' roles.