The new political order in Washington is certain to generate plenty of corpses for us right-wing bloggers to circle over, and the potential appointment of Alcee Hastings to the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee may be the first. The committee oversees everything from the CIA to the NRO to the DIA, and the chairman plays a critical role in national security. So who has Speaker-to-Be Pelosi promised to put in that position?

With majority status in the "people's house" comes a share in responsibility for the security of the Republic. This is why we are so concerned about a shadow which darkens presumptive Speaker Pelosi's triumphant morning, a shadow which will only grow longer if she allows it to begin appearing prominently in the media coverage of the global war on terrorism, metastasizing into her first "intelligence failure" even before she takes the gavel from outgoing Speaker Hastert. That is the shadow of Alcee Lamar Hastings, the reelected Democratic Representative from Florida's 23rd District. ...

That Mr. Hastings is employed by the United States of America, and is not a guest a federal penitentiary, is itself cause for wonder.

Mr. Hastings's own website says this about his pre-Congressional background: "Known to many as 'Judge,' Congressman Hastings has distinguished himself as an attorney, civil rights activist, judge, and now Member of Congress. Appointed by President Carter in 1979, he became the first African-American Federal Judge in the state of Florida, and served in that position for ten years."

What this autobiography omits are the reasons Hastings' judicial tenure, normally a life appointment, was cut short after only a decade. Barely two years into office, "Judge" Hastings accepted a $150,000 bribe in exchange for giving a lenient sentence to two swindlers, then lied in subsequent sworn testimony about the incident. The case involved two brothers, Frank and Thomas Romano, who had been convicted in 1980 on 21 counts of racketeering. Together with attorney William Borders Jr., Hastings, who presided over the Romanos' case, hatched a plot to solicit a bribe from the brothers. In exchange for a $150,000 cash payment to him, Hastings would return some $845,000 of their $1.2 million in seized assets after they served their three-year jail terms.

Taped conversations between Hastings and Borders confirmed that the judge was a party to the plot. Hastings was also criminally prosecuted for bribery, but his accomplice Borders went to prison rather than testify against him. Hastings was acquitted thanks to Borders' silence. ...

"Be assured that I'm going to be a judge for life," Mr. Hastings told reporters in 1983 after his acquittal. But the arguments that swayed a Miami jury did not sway the Congress. The Democrat-controlled House of Representatives impeached Hastings for bribery and perjury by a lopsided vote of 413 to 3. Then the Democrat-controlled Senate convicted him on eight articles of impeachment by well over the required two-thirds majority in 1989. Thus Mr. Hastings became only the sixth judge in the history of our Republic (and only the third in the 20th Century) to be removed by Congress. He was, and is, an utter disgrace to the nation and to the legal profession. Among those voting to impeach him were Ms. Pelosi herself, Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, the Democratic whip who is likely to become the new House majority leader, and Mr. Hastings' fellow African-American Congressman, Michigan's John Conyers, who took pains to deny that race had anything to do with the removal of the bribe-taking jurist.

And now Hastings is a member of the House that impeached him, and poised to be given oversight of national security matters. Utterly despicable. What do my Democrat/leftist readers think of this? How could such an appointment possibly be defended?

I sincerely hope that Speaker Pelosi decides to maintain Jane Harman's seniority on the House Intelligence Committee rather than sacrifice our national security on the altar of racial politics.



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