November 26, 2003
Senate Republicans Caught Spying on Democrats
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Remember about three weeks ago, when Washington Republicans got all out of sorts when Sean Hannity, a well-known conservative pundit on Fox, revealed a memo drafted within the Democratic party? The memo, actually, was not really that bad--it did suggest that Democrats should try to make political hay out of investigations into pre-war intelligence, but it laid out plans in a very reasonable way, even stating that an investigation should not be called for until "it becomes clear we have exhausted the opportunity to usefully collaborate with the majority." It did not say anything about being dishonest, rather it slammed the Bush administration for its dishonesty and outlined the Democrats' responsibility to report this dishonesty.
The GOP, naturally, glossed over this and railed at the Democrats for being so heinous. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said, "I will not permit the Intelligence Committee to be so misused for blatant partisan gain," and while completely ignoring the appearance that Republicans stole and leaked the memo, he instead attacked Democrats, saying "the author or authors and intended recipient or recipients of this memorandum to disavow this partisan attack in its entirety," and until that happened, the Intelligence Committee "cannot function and will not serve its purpose."
In outrage, Republicans have been trying to figure out how exactly to punish Democrats, including calling for an ethics investigation, or even reworking the committee's rules to essentially remove any power or influence at all for Democrats serving on the committee. Senator Orrin Hatch agreed that the memo bordered on "treason." He also said that was "no indication" that the memos were stolen.
Well, guess what. It turns out that the memo--which, by the way, was a draft memo, written by a staff aide and never approved by any Democratic Senator nor ever distributed among Democrats--was stolen by Republicans. Specifically, by one of Orrin hatch's own staff members, apparently with the help of a former staff member.
About a week ago, Senator Durbin filed a formal complaint to Capitol police, and just now the news is breaking that the majority staffer was likely responsible, having raided the Democrats' computers for files that could be damaging to them if made public (it is reassuring that the memo in question was the worst they could find). And if indeed that is proven, then it only naturally follows that the memo was subsequently leaked by Republicans, to Fox News, coincidentally a conservative network, and Hannity, a conservative pundit.
At least Hatch has the decency to decry that this happened "on his watch." But it also shows up the massive dishonesty and hypocrisy within the Republican party. One wonders what one might find if one raided their secret files....
It is interesting to note, by the way, that the "liberal" press is not only under-reporting the story (burying it deeply, while the memo leak itself was front-page), but it is also refraining from even using the word "stealing"--instead referring to the incident as "improperly obtaining."
Just like Bush "improperly obtained" the election.