Pelosi re­mains mum on intelligence pick

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Amy Fa­gan

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.

Agence France Presse / Getty Images

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.

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