Intel Committee Update

Pelosi has disqualified Alcee Hastings – the impeached federal judge turned Democratic congressman – from serving as chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. However, according to CQ, the current ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, won’t be getting it either: “There is little to suggest Pelosi will reverse her intention to replace Harman atop the panel.”
This is very good news. Hastings v. Harman was a nasty choice. Hastings wins brownie points for his votes on Iraq and his overall progressive orientation (“fair trading” aside); then again, putting an judge impeached for bribery in charge of such a powerful committee would totally undermine Democratic anti-corruption efforts. Harman, however, has integrity, but is far to the right of the party (and the American people) on national security-related issues, including Iraq.
The most commonly mentioned compromise candidate, Silvestre Reyes, isn’t too great either; Laura Rozen details why. My personal favorite is the same as everyone else’s personal favorite: Rush Holt. He’s only been in the House since 1998, but he’s a physicist who’s worked as an intelligence analyst at the State Department – unique and valuable experience for this post. Moreover, his record on national security is impeccable (yes, he got Iraq right). But I think Holt’s inexperience will be his undoing. A more politically viable choice would be Sanford Bishop. He’s in the Congressional Black Caucus, pleasing the CBC now that Hastings won’t be chair. He’s also in the Blue Dog Coalition, which helps, as Harman is a BDC member as well. His selection would assuage the joint CBC and BDC anger that would normally accompany a compromise choice – and that’s what I think will win him the post at the end of the day. Sad, considering that his record on Iraq is to the right of even Harman. He voted for a resolution declaring Iraq to be part of the war on terror and condemning the idea of a timetable – in June 2006. Let’s hope Pelosi chooses Holt.

1 thought on “Intel Committee Update

  1. Pelosi might choose Holt? Wow. Would Washington survive such a stroke of reason?
    Experience is surely a red herring in this context. If a guy has been in Congress for 8 years, then I would think that he has learned about as much as he will ever learn. Beyond that he might learn to do evil, or “learn” in the metaphorical sense of gaining influence.

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