All else being equal, Alcee Hastings isn’t reallly the dovish congressman I want to go to interfactional war with. That said, Josh Marshall’s quick conclusion that “it’s not about Jane Harman. It’s about Alcee Hastings” and “I just think it’s a bad idea to have someone chair the intel committee who has previously been impeached and convicted by Congress for corrupt acts” seems far too simplistic for me.
Let’s just set these things aside. Based on TPM Muckraker roundups, the case against Hastings is that, on the one hand, he “and a friend tried to shake down a defendant facing trial in Hastings’ courtroom for $150,000. In exchange, the two promised a reduced jail sentence and the return of over $800,000 in confiscated property.” What’s more “in 1985, he leaked secret government information that ruined three FBI probes.” Now, the US Senate rejected those leak charges during the Hastings impeachment process, and though Hastings was removed from office over the bribe matter, he was also found not guilty in a criminal trial.
But let’s assume it’s true. Hastings shook some dudes down for $150,000 and ruined three FBI investigations. Jane Harman, by contrast, supported an invasion of Iraq based on bogus intelligence that’s costs hundreds of billions of dollars and killed hundreds of thousands of people. Who do I have more doubts about? Rush Holt, the new potential compromise figure, seems like a far better choice than either. No bribery allegations and, what’s more, he “voted against the Congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to use force against Iraq, primarily because there was no evidence of an Iraq connection to 9/11, because there was no evidence that Saddam posed an immediate threat to us with WMD, and because I believed the President’s new-found enthusiasm for a “preemptive war” doctrine was both unconstitutional and dangerous.”
That sounds like the kind of thing I’m looking for in an Intel Chair. I think people should take the fact that Harman was sitting on that committee and didn’t reach Holt’s conclusion more seriously. What was she doing? What intelligence was she looking at? I was looking in part at the fact that all these Democratic leaders — people like Harman — were for the war, and assumed they wouldn’t be doing so without good reason. But, obviously, they were. So why were they? Why was she?