This is interesting. The chairman of the House Intelligence committee has suspended a staff member pending an investigation into whether the staffer leaked classified information to the media. The staffer in question is a Democrat. The Democrats on the committee are screaming bloody murder.
WASHINGTON — Democrats say there was no basis for the Republican head of the House Intelligence Committee to suspend a staff member who's come under scrutiny for the leak of a secret intelligence document.
The unidentified staff member, a Democrat, was suspended this week by Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., and is being denied access to classified information pending the outcome of a review, Hoekstra's spokesman, Jamal Ware, said Thursday.
The ranking Democrat on the committee said Hoekstra's action was "without basis."
The leak to The New York Times of a National Intelligence Estimate on global terror trends caused a political uproar last month. In the assessment, completed in April, analysts from the government's 16 spy agencies concluded that the Iraq war has become a "cause celebre" for Islamic extremists, breeding deep resentment of the U.S. that probably will get worse before it gets better.
President Bush, who suggested the document was leaked for "political purposes" weeks before the midterm elections, later made public four pages of the estimate's key findings.
In a letter to Hoekstra dated Sept. 29, Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., a committee member, said the Democratic staffer requested the document from National Intelligence Director John Negroponte three days before a Sept. 23 story by the Times on its conclusions.
"I have no credible information to say any classified information was leaked from the committee's minority staff, but the implications of such would be dramatic," LaHood said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press. "This may, in fact, be only coincidence, and simply 'look bad.' But coincidence, in this town, is rare."
Democrats began screaming the moment they were informed of the suspension. But they appear to be carrying on an awful lot over what really is a commonsense action. Until an investigation is completed into what really does appear to be a highly suspicious action, what is the harm in suspending the staffer's access to more classified material. Unless of course the investigation is what the folks are afraid of in the first place.