As political scandals go, this one should have been Big News. It had all the makings: a leaked document, arrogant staff and a nefarious plot to exploit national security for partisan advantage. But somehow, the media more or less ignored the story behind a memo advocating partisan guerrilla warfare on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence last week penned by some nameless Democrat staffer.
The Committee is investigating whether intelligence leading up to the war in Iraq was faulty and whether the Administration in any way attempted to skew intelligence to favor its own desire to wage war. The issue is as sensitive and highly charged a topic imaginable in the increasingly politically polarized Congress. But the Intelligence Committee -- with its 30-year history of bipartisan co-operation -- was thought able to resist the partisan temptation. That is until someone on the committee got the bright idea to craft an option paper to explore how best to turn the inquiry into a White House witch hunt.
Among other things, the memo urged Democrat members of the Committee to "pull the majority (Republicans) along as far as we can," "castigate the majority," and "make our case to the public." Then, if all else failed, to "pull the trigger on an independent investigation," with "the best time to do so . . . next year" -- right in the middle of a presidential election.
You would think some enterprising investigative reporter for one of the major dailies or networks would be trying to track down the author. Doesn't anyone in the media want to know if the memo's author was directed by a member of the committee to lay out these options? If not, you'd think the Democrat committee members themselves would be screaming for the supercilious twit's head.
But, no, the Democrats are only concerned about who it is who might have leaked the memo to Sean Hannity, the conservative talk-show host who broke the story on his syndicated radio program last week. Caught with their hands in the cookie jar, Democrats want to punish the person who observed them in the act.
And as for the media, they'd rather focus on Republican outrage over the incident than get to the bottom of whether the Democrats are playing politics with national security. When the networks deigned to cover the story at all, their focus was almost entirely on the Republican response to the memo, not the incendiary document itself. For the most part, influential newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times buried stories on the memo deep inside their pages.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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