Pelosi remains mum on intelligence pick
The intelligence community and Capitol Hill are awaiting House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi’s choice to lead the chamber’s intelligence panel, an explosive decision that will anger key members of her party no matter who she selects.
Even before Democrats won control of the House, reports surfaced thatMrs.PelosiwouldskipoverRep. JaneHarmanofCalifornia,thehighest ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and opt instead for Rep. Alcee L. Hastings of Florida or Silvestre Reyes of Texas, the secondand third-ranking on the panel.
Mrs. Harman is backed by many centrists and is seen as hawkish on defense matters, while Mr. Hastings has the support of the powerful Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) but istaintedbyhisimpeachmentandremoval as a federal judge in 1989.
Mr.Reyeshasthebackingofmany Hispanicmembersandofthosewho want a compromise candidate.
“Harman’s well-known and quite respected by those involved in national security affairs,” said Gary Schmitt,aseniorfellowattheAmerican Enterprise Institute, a public policy group, and former minority staff director for the Senate intelligence panel.
“Hastings is obviously less wellknownandgiventheimpeachmentis a far more problematic choice for chairman. [. . .] His record is one that’s going to give the intelligence community something of a pause.”
AchoicetosidestepMrs.Harman would be portrayed by Republicans as the second bad political move on Mrs. Pelosi’s part, after her decision to back Rep. John P. Murtha in his failedbidtobecomeHousemajority leader.
“Itshowsveryflawedjudgmenton her part,” Rep. Ray LaHood of Illi- nois,thesecond-rankingRepublican ontheintelligencepanelsaidofapossible Hastings choice. “Her first flawed judgment was backing [Murtha].”
Mr. LaHood said Mrs. Harman “deservestobechair.Shehasearned her stripes; she has done the hard work.”HesaidMr.Hastingshaspaid attentiontointelligenceissuesaswell but simply doesn’t have Mrs. Harman’s experience.
CallstoMrs.Harman’sofficewere not immediately returned, and Mrs. Pelosi has been officially mum. She refusedcommentatapresseventon Nov. 20, and a staffer would only say “no decision has been made yet.”
TheAssociatedPresshasreported thatMrs.PelosialreadyhastoldMrs. Harman that she won’t be reappointed to the panel next year, and several publications, including The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times,havesaidMrs.Pelosidoesnot think Mrs. Harman has been tough enough on President Bush.
OnNov.22,Mr.Hastings’officereleased a letter he sent to his colleagues seeking their support, denouncing as unfounded the bribery case against him.
He said he has been the victim of “misleading, poorly informed, misinformed and sometimes venomous attacks [. . .] by pundits, politicians, and editors screaming the word ‘impeachment,’“whilemakingnomention of his acquittal in a court of law.
House Majority Leader-elect Steny H. Hoyer, says he’ll give Mrs. Pelosi his advice on the matter privately. Mrs. Pelosi will make that decision“inatimelyfashion,consistent with the interest of the United States and the intelligence community,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Mrs. Pelosi ruffled more than a few feathers when she backed Mr. Murtha of Pennsylvania to be majority leader over Mr. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat and her second-incommand as whip of the minority.
Seasonal rite: President Bush looks out from the Oval Office towards the Rose Garden of the White House on Nov. 22. Mr. Bush was about to pardon the National Turkey “Flyer” in a traditional preThanksgiving ceremony.