Sunday, December 03, 2006

So why was Jane Harman passed over?

In this incredibly lazy front page report from today's Washington Post, Jonathan Weisman and Peter Slevin go into great detail telling us why Alcee Hastings was not tapped to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, but give only the skimpiest of possibilities on why Jane Harman, who had been the ranking Democrat, was also snubbed.

The fight over the top spot on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has exposed the kind of factional politics that bedeviled House Democrats before they were swept from control in 1994. Harman, a moderate, strong-on-defense "Blue Dog" Democrat, had angered liberals with her reluctance to challenge the Bush administration's use of intelligence.

The details about Hastings are interesting, but a matter of public record and letting your readership know that he was impeached by a vote of 413 to 3 in the House and subsequently convicted by the Senate and removed from the bench, is really all you need.

A much more interesting report would detail the reasons Jane Harman was overlooked. The reporters might have actually had to do some work for those answers, so I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt by calling them lazy. The real problem might be that they know the real reason and it wouldn't reflect very well on Nancy Pelosi.

As the ranking Democrat on the committee Jane Harman was privy to the details of the NSA wiretap program. She was also sworn to secrecy on those details. It appears that Nancy Pelosi is punishing Harman for doing her job and keeping her oath, so what kind of message does that send to the new members? National security isn't a partisan game and the Speaker-designate has just told the Democrats that will work for her to either make it a game, national security secrets be damned, or pay the price.

**Clarification** This front page Washington Post story is from Wednesday November 29. The story was collected then and my text is somewhat misleading as to the publication date.

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