Skip to comments.Activist Group Wants Ethics Probe of Rockefeller (FRN + MemoGate Alert)
Posted on 12/15/2003 5:59:01 AM PST by jmstein7
The Free Republic Network (FRN), a conservative activist group, is asking for a Senate investigation into the conduct of staffers who drafted a memo outlining a plan for Democrats to use intelligence information against President Bush in the 2004 election.
In a letter to Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, FRN called for "a full and thorough investigation" into the memo prepared for Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI).
The group's complaint alleges that a memo written by committee staff and provided to Democrat members of the committee documents efforts by Democrat committee members to abuse their positions on the historically non-partisan Intelligence Committee. The complaint accuses them of planning to obtain privileged intelligence information and misuse it to help elect the 2004 Democrat presidential nominee.
FRN has created a website at www.intelmemo.com to document the progress of the scandal referred to as "Memogate." The full text of the memo originally leaked to Fox News is posted there along with news articles, analysis and commentary.
Citing the role of the SSCI to oversee the comprehensive National Security program of the United States, the group charges that any action that compromises the ability of the committee to effectively execute its duties puts America unduly at risk. It suggested the memo's authors may have "conspired to misuse SSCI membership and resources to obtain and disseminate confidential and privileged intelligence information to gain partisan political advantage."
FRN denounced the course of action proposed in the memo as "both frightening and disturbing." It pointed out the legal and ethical issues and calls into question whether those involved can be trusted to act in America's best interests.
SSCI Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) has threatened to shut the committee down or to significantly limit its activities. FRN believes the ability of intelligence organizations to confidently share information with the committee having been compromised puts the war on terrorism is at risk.
The group wants an ethics probe to determine whether Sen. Rockefeller, Democrat staffers, or Democrat Senate members of the SSCI used or conspired to use the resources of the SSCI to engage in political activities in violation of the Senate Rules of Ethics. Additionally it seeks to discover whether those same individuals impermissibly used official resources to engage in what is effectively campaign work or violated Rule 9.6 of the SSCI by disclosing the contents of any papers or materials or other information received by the committee.
Senate Democrats on the committee or their leadership have thus far refused to disavow the memo or discipline its authors, despite criticism of their Republican colleagues.
Roberts said, "I was stunned by this memo, shocked by this memo. We have a 30-year history in the Intelligence Committee of nonpartisan activity, dating clear back from the Frank Church days. And what this memo has done is really poisoned the well."
Sen. Zell Miller (D-GA) expressed his outrage, saying, "If what has happened here is not treason, it is its first cousin. The ones responsible -- be they staff or elected or both -- should be dealt with quickly and severely sending a lesson to all that this kind of action will not be tolerated, ignored or excused. Heads should roll!"
Copyright © 2003 Talon News -- All rights reserved.
Perhaps we need to freep Orin Hatch?
A Violation of Trust by Judiciary Panel Staffers
On Dec. 2, Associate Editorial Page Editor Melanie Kirkpatrick, in writing about the leaked Democratic memos and notes on President Bush's nominees to the federal courts, lamented that "a young man in Washington is in danger of losing his job because of something this page published. . . ." Sorry, not true. The fact that these staff members confessed to improperly and intentionally accessing restricted material on the Judiciary Committee's computers is why they stand to lose their jobs. Your newspaper simply served as an enabler -- a conduit for the fruits of their unethical activity.
The individuals in question (note the plural -- so far, two Republican staffers were found to have had improper and unauthorized access to the Judiciary Committee's computers and the investigation isn't over) are temporarily on administrative leave, with full pay, because it appears they electronically stole documents belonging to someone else. The notion that the Democrats invited this illegal electronic theft is as weak as arguing that a homeowner invites burglary because he has windows that allow prospective crooks to see the valuables inside. The shared computer system was designed under Republican control of the Senate so that senators and their staffs have access only to their own files. And security walls were erected for that purpose.
And in contradiction to Ms. Kirkpatrick's assertions, it was Sen. Patrick Leahy who for more than five years made repeated requests for separate servers and computer systems for Republican and Democratic committee staff -- precautions that were rejected as unnecessary and wasteful by the Republican leadership. Regardless of whether a determined staffer was technically capable of defeating computer firewalls or authorization restrictions, the fact is that someone knowingly stole confidential material and made it public. That violation of trust is at the heart of this investigation.
Why is that important? Well, for one thing, confidential information on every Bush nominee for the federal bench is stored in the Judiciary Committee's files, some on the very computer from which these documents were stolen. There are summaries and actual detailed investigative files provided by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, evaluations by state bar associations, by friends, enemies, acquaintances, business partners and employees, even current and former spouses. All that information is just as vulnerable to theft and abuse as the stolen documents the Journal published. Imagine the damage that could be done to someone's career or life if a Senate employee were to leak allegations of criminal activity from a nominee's FBI file? Or the intimate details of a bitter divorce proceeding or custody battle?
The stolen documents, many never seen by a Democratic senator, date from the fall of 2001 to the spring of 2003. And they show that senators on the Democratic side of the aisle met with groups concerned about conservative activists nominated for appointment to the federal bench. Some of these groups went so far as to suggest that Democrats should work to defeat these nominees, not on the floor of the Senate, but by slowing down their nominations in committee. Where would these groups come up with such a strategy? Perhaps from observing the same tactic as it was perfected by Republican senators for nearly six years during the Clinton administration when only 46 out of 84 circuit court nominations made it to the Senate floor for a vote.
The idea that Democratic senators are under the thrall of People for the American Way, NARAL or the NAACP is as fallacious as the notion that the American Conservative Union, the National Right to Life Committee or the Cato Institute dictate the agenda for Republicans. Don't take my word for it -- just look at the record.
The oft-cited Nov. 7, 2001, memo relays the groups' recommendation that 19 contentious judicial nominees be closely scrutinized, and in some cases, delayed. How has this battle plan been followed by Democrats?
Of those 19 nominees, 18 have had hearings and have been voted out of the Judiciary Committee, and 14 have been confirmed by the Senate and are now federal judges. In one case -- Deborah Cook, a nominee to the Sixth Circuit -- I cast one of only three Democratic votes in committee to move her nomination to the full Senate. Fourteen out of 19 nominees cited as controversial by civil rights groups are now judges. Apparently, Democratic senators listened to the concerns expressed by these groups and then voted their conscience -- exactly what most Americans expect of their senators.
Ms. Kirkpatrick ignores the truth of this matter. The problem with the judicial nominations process isn't stolen documents that discuss scrutinizing right-wing candidates, it is the fact that too often this White House is intent on forcing conservative activists through the nomination process. The solution is equally clear: Mainstream judicial nominees of good character and legal competence will be confirmed in a bipartisan manner.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.)
Updated December 15, 2003
That needed to be said!
So, while Americans were mourning, Dims were plotting.
Okay , thanks again Orin, for defending the Cosntitution, great work there bud.
Thanks for the clarification and I apoligize for confusing the two memos.