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The Battles of Hastings By: Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, October 19, 2006


I give you Alcee Hastings, Democrat from Florida, the next chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence should Democrats win a majority in the next Congress.

Before I explain exactly why that is a bad thing for America, let me make clear that I am a registered Republican. I tell you this up front because several of my friends who say they are Republicans have told me recently they intend to vote for Democrats this November, because the Republican Party has betrayed their trust.

 

These “Republicans” have two main gripes with the party they embrace on sunny days.

 

Under Bush, they say, the size of the federal government has expanded by leaps and bounds. We are small-government Republicans. If our party won’t limit the size of government, who will? they ask. (Answer: not the Democrats, that’s for sure).

 

Under Bush, they say – gripe number two – the size of federal budget deficits continues to grow. It couldn’t get much worse under tax and spend Democrats, they argue. What we have now are tax and spend Republicans. They need a lesson that only electoral defeat can give them.

 

We all have heard such arguments from family and friends. The Republicans won’t do my bidding, so let’s get rid of the Republicans!

 

Who cares if the Democrats won’t do any better; at least my guys will have learned their lesson!

 

This column is not about the value of consensus, or about the need to find common ground with your political opponents for the greater good of the nation – although both are extremely important when it comes to the day to day business of actually governing.

 

It’s about what my friend Paul Weyrich recently evoked in reminiscing on what has disappeared from American politics since leftists (as opposed to liberals) took over the Democrat party.

 

“There once was a time…when you did not fear victory by the opposition party,” Weyrich writes. “In 1960, I worked hard for Nixon. I did everything I could to help him defeat Senator John F. Kennedy. But when the electoral votes were in and Kennedy had apparently won, I was disappointed but had no fear in my heart.”

 

No fear in my heart.

 

Now imagine for an instant Alcee Hastings as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

 

Here is a man who was appointed to the federal bench by Jimmy Carter in 1979, and whose outright corruption was so egregious that his own party saw fit to impeach him ten years later.

 

Judge Hastings was one of just six federal judges since the beginning of the Republic to be impeached by Congress and removed from office by the United States Senate.

 

After his impeachment and removal from office in 1989 – on charges of corruption and perjury – Hastings did not retreat in a corner. He did not beg forgiveness. He made no public display of repentence.

 

On the contrary. Judge Hastings played the Jesse Jackson race card. He was a victim. He had been wronged – not the people of Florida, to whom he had lied and from whom he had stolen (such is the meaning of perjury and corruption, after all).

 

In November 1992, Hastings ran successfully in the newly-created 23rd district of Florida, an overwhelmingly Democrat district created by the  Florida legislature after the 1990 census as a safe Democratic seat.

 

Since then, Hastings has been re-elected with comfortable margins every two years. His official biography makes no mention of the untidy fact of his impeachment and removal as a federal judge. I guess he figures it’s not something potential voters in Broward and Palm Beach County need to know.

 

And that’s just for starters.

 

Since Congress began investigating the September 11 attacks, senior members of the U.S. intelligence community have been in open revolt against the Bush administration.

 

The leaders of this revolt continue to occupy the highest ranking positions in the intelligence community. Over the past four years, their efforts to undermine the Bush administration through the systematic leaking of national security secrets and the compromise of top secret operations in the war on terror, constitute nothing less than treason.

 

They have been given cover by Democrats on both the House and the Senate intelligence committees, who have been more than willing to serve  as conduits for their partisan attacks against the Bush White House and, in some cases, as conduits for leaking intelligence secrets to the press.

Ever wonder how the media first learned that the CIA had set up “secret prisons” in Europe and the Middle East, where it was interrogating al Qaeda members captured during hush-hush operations?

 

Or how the media first got wind that the National Security Agency was listening to telephone calls and other communications between known terrorists and individuals in the United States, without seeking a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court?

 

Or how the press got word of a long-standing effort by the U.S. Treasury department to work with the SWIFT bank consortium in Belgium, to monitor international wire transfers by individuals suspected of terrorist ties?

 

These leaks have done irreparable harm to the people of the United States by limiting the ability of the U.S. government to track terrorists, capture them, and learn their secrets.

 

Alcee Hastings was not personally behind those leaks, as far as I know. But Alcee Hastings, and the current ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, Jane Harman (who is term-limited from becoming chairman should the Democrats win in November) have transformed the House intelligence committee from its bipartisan oversight role into a highly-partisan attack committee – at least, the forty percent of it they currently control.

 

Should Democrats win this November, we can expert Mr. Hastings to use the HPSCI to conduct a series of partisan witch hunts against the White House and against Republicans elsewhere in the administration. These “investigations” will be conducted under the banner of “oversight,” and will allege partisan personnel appointments to top intelligence positions.

 

In fact, the goal of the Democrats is to use the Congressional oversight process to cripple the ability of a Republican administration to effectively run the federal government.

 

So far, they have made a pretty good job of it, even though they have been in the minority. They hounded Porter Goss out as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and have brought back a representative of the CIA “Old Boys Club,” Stephen Kappes – whom Mr. Goss correctly fired for insubordination in November 2004 – as Deputy CIA director.

 

The word on the street is that Mr. Kappes is now angling for the top CIA slot, after his current boss, Air Force General Michael Hayden, replaces John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence later this year. (Mr. Negroponte is said to want Secretary of State, or NSC).

 

Imagine this pair: a former judge, impeached for corruption, teaming up with a former clandestine officer, fired for insubordination, at the head of America’s premier spy service?

 

And you think they will turn their talents on al Qaeda?

 

My money is that they will use their formidable powers to hound out Bush administration appointees from the intelligence community, and to quietly put an end to the war against our terrorist foes.

 

Call it, unilateral disarmament.

 

I give you Alcee Hastings.

 

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Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).


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