This round is easy: You should vote against Alcee Hastings for Intelligence Committee chairman. You can do that most easily if you live in Florida's 23rd district. But you can also vote against Hastings anywhere else in the United States, indirectly.
Here's why you should vote against Alcee Hastings.
Hastings was a U.S. District Court judge when he was impeached by a Democratic House in 1988 by a vote of 413 to 8. The action came after a recommendation by a special investigative committee of the federal judiciary that concluded Hastings lied and fabricated evidence to win an acquittal on bribery charges in 1983. In 1989, a Democratic-controlled Senate convicted Hastings of accepting a $150,000 bribe in 1981 in a criminal case and for committing numerous acts of perjury at his trial.
One impeachment count in particular should raise a red flag in light of the Intelligence Committee post. According to Congressional Quarterly, one of the counts "alleged that Hastings leaked information about a wiretap he was supervising and thereby forced a halt to an extensive federal undercover operation in the Miami area in 1985."
Leaked information about a wiretap? This is the man who would be privy to details of National Security Agency operations, including its warrantless surveillance of communications between al-Qaida operatives and their U.S. contacts? Hello?
(You can find more about Hastings' ethical problems here.)
Even if Hastings had a clean record, he would be an unsuitable choice for chairman of the Intelligence Committee. He has no education or experience in intelligence or foreign affairs, other than his service on the committee. He is an extremist; the 2006 Almanac of American Politics says that his "voting record has been the most liberal in the Florida delegation".
That's why you should vote against Alcee Hastings; here's how to do it. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (or, if you prefer its official name, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence) is chosen by the Speaker. If the Republicans retain their majority, the current speaker, Dennis Hastert, will name the chairman (most likely the current chairman, Peter Hoekstra). If the Democrats win a majority, then, almost certainly*, Nancy Pelosi, now Minority Leader, will become speaker and name the chairman. Newspaper accounts differ; some say that she has promised to name Hastings chairman, others only that she is considering him for chairman. Anyone who would even consider Hastings for that position is unfit to be speaker.
To prevent Hastings from becoming chairman of the Intelligence Committee, we must prevent Nancy Pelosi from becoming speaker, which means voting against every candidate who would vote for her as speaker. In all but a few cases, that means voting for the Republican candidate. (Pelosi did not receive a unanimous vote from Democrats when Congress was last organized, and will not receive the vote of Gene Taylor of Mississippi this January, judging by his past votes. A few other Democrats might vote against her, too. If I lived in a district where one of those moderate Democrats was running, I would consider voting for them — if they pledged not to vote for Pelosi.)
In Washington state, voting against Alcee Hastings means voting for Larry Ishmael over Jay Inslee, Doug Roulstone over Rick Larsen, Michael Messmore over Brian Baird, Doc Hastings over Richard Wright, Cathy McMorris over Peter Goldmark, Doug Cloud over Norm Dicks, Steve Berens over Jim McDermott, Dave Reichert over Darcy Burner, and Steve Cofchin over Adam Smith. (If it were not for the Democrats' choice of Nancy Pelosi, and her apparent choice of Alcee Hastings, there are one or two races in that set where I might not make an endorsement, just because I don't know enough about the candidates.)
So there you are. If you are at all concerned about our national security, vote for the Republican House candidate — unless the Democratic candidate has pledged not to vote for Pelosi.
And in the most competitive Washington race, let me pound on this point one more time: A vote for Darcy Burner is a vote to make a corrupt extremist, who was convicted of perjury by the Senate, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. There are other reasons to vote against Burner (and perhaps a few reasons to vote for her), but that's enough for me. And should be enough for anyone who cares about our nation's security.
Cross posted at Jim Miller on Politics.
(*I say almost certainly because it is possible that a few Democratic congressmen will put the good of the country ahead of party loyalty and deny Pelosi a majority, even if the Democrats win a majority of seats. It is unclear what would happen after that, but they might be able to force the choice of a more moderate Democrat as Speaker.
Some will wonder why Pelosi made this strange choice. You can find my tentative explanation here.)Posted by Jim Miller at November 04, 2006 10:06 AM | Email This