Peoria Journal Star
October 21, 2006
LaHood letter fuels partisan dispute
By Paul M. Krawzak
And Marcus Stern
Copley News Service
- Rep. Ray LaHood's call for an investigation into the
leaking of a secret intelligence report has led to the
suspension of a Democratic staff member and sparked the
latest partisan squabble to divide the normally
Top Republicans and Democrats hurled charges back and
forth on Friday, accusing each other of jockeying for
political advantage and abusing their authority with less
than three weeks to go before the Nov. 7 election.
The brouhaha arose from a letter the Peoria Republican,
who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, made
public this week. In it, he asked for an investigation
into what he said was a "politically motivated" leak of
portions of a secret National Intelligence Estimate on
Iraq to the New York Times.
The Times published a story on the report Sept. 23,
touching off a partisan firestorm. The April 2006 report,
later partially released by President Bush, said the war
in Iraq had the unintended consequence of helping
terrorist groups recruit fighters. It also said a victory
over terrorists would discourage their recruitment
"I stand by what I said in my letter," LaHood said Friday.
"People are fed up with these leaks and we need to find
out if somebody on the committee, from the committee staff
or someone else leaked this information to the New York
LaHood, the vice chairman of the committee, cast suspicion
on a Democratic staff member, who has been identified as
Larry Hanauer. LaHood said Hanauer requested a copy of the
report a few days before the Times published its story.
On Tuesday, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter
Hoekstra, R-Mich., stripped Hanauer of his access to
classified material, pending an investigation.
Hanauer, whose identity was leaked to Fox News, hired
attorney Jonathon Turley, who immediately fired off a
letter to Hoekstra.
Turley, denying Hanauer was or even could have been the
source of the leak, called it "an outrage that he and his
family have been pulled into this political vortex."
Hoekstra's action also drew a rebuke from Democrats on the
"I am appalled," Rep. Jane Harman, the committee's top
Democrat, said in a letter to Hoekstra. "There is no
evidence to support your judgment that the staffer gave
information gleaned" from the report.
Harman added that two days before the Times story ran, the
report was posted on an internal computer network
accessible to about 40 committee staff members. Several
other congressional committees and administration
officials also had access to the report, raising the
possibility someone else could have leaked it.
Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., a member of the committee,
said he had asked Hanauer to provide him with a copy of
the report for his review and that after completing his
review, he gave it back to Hanauer to be re-filed. He
decried Hoekstra's action against Hanauer as an
LaHood wrote that while he did not have "credible
information" that intelligence was leaked from the
committee, "the implications of such would be dramatic."
"This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply 'look
bad,"' he wrote. "But coincidence, in this town, is rare."
Hoekstra defended his action in a letter to Harman, saying
that while it was uncertain that wrongdoing had occurred,
it was "necessary to act swiftly" on a potential
LaHood said leaks have increased during the eight years he
has served on the committee, compromising the nation's
"When information is leaked it hurts the ability of the -
CIA and other intelligence-gathering agencies of our
government to have credibility with sources," he said.
Earlier this week, LaHood asked for permission to make his
Sept. 29 letter public when he became angry after Harman
released an unclassified summary of the panel's inquiry
into the corruption scandal of former Rep. Randy "Duke"
"I'm sick and tired of her (Harman's) politicizing the
Intelligence Committee, particularly 21 days before the
election," he said.
LaHood charged that Harman has become confrontational
because she is worried about being tossed off the
committee if Democrats take control of the House and Rep.
Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., becomes speaker.
"I mean, that's what this is all about," he said.
The Intelligence Committee is one of the most sensitive,
bipartisan and secretive in Congress.
Fractious public behavior has been rare until recent
weeks, when it erupted around what Harman said was a
Republican delay in releasing the results of an inquiry
into whether staffers were culpable in Cunningham's
efforts to steer up to $80 million in contracts through
the Intelligence Committee to friends who were bribing