“Dysfunctional” House Intelligence Committee

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Remember “Duke” Cunningham? He’s the California Republican Congressman who pled guilty to bribery-related charges in late 2005, who is now serving an eight-year prison sentence. He also sat on the House Intelligence committee that, among other responsibilities, makes recommendations for the “black” budget of classified federal national security spending.

Concerned that Cunningham’s mercenary motivations may have corrupted the Intelligence committee’s business, the committee authorized an internal investigation, which was completed last year. But here’s the rub: Neither the former House intel committee chairman, Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), nor its current chairman, Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx), have agreed to release the investigation’s findings.

Ranking Democrat Jane Harman released the investigation’s executive summary last December – to howls of outrage from committee Republicans. Today, the Los Angeles Times reports, it got a look at the whole thing — at least the 23-page unclassified version of the 50-page report.

Its conclusion: “The committee [is] a dysfunctional entity that served as a crossroads for almost every major figure in the ongoing criminal probe by the Justice Department.”

Staffers said that Cunningham seemed more focused on who was getting the money than on the merits of the underlying projects, and that they were disturbed by his close ties with contractors who seemed unqualified for the projects they had won.

Aides said they acceded to Cunningham’s demands “to keep him from going nuclear or ballistic” and because they considered him an influential member of the House Appropriations Committee who might retaliate by blocking intelligence committee funding priorities. …

At one point, senior committee aide Michele Lang sent out a staff e-mail describing the program, saying, “HOOAH! Another $5 million of taxpayer money wasted.” By 2005, the funding for Wade had swelled to $25 million.

More evidence if you needed it that the intelligence oversight process is broken, that some of the companies hired to protect the country won their contracts through graft and are unqualified, and that post 9/11 homeland security and intelligence are just a big new trough for some contractors with the added benefit (for them) of no public accountability because the contracts are classified. Evidence as well that the entrenched conflicts of interest continue, to the degree that the committee still will not agree to publicly release even the unclassified version of the report. And that’s just the greed factor. Who’s looking out that the intelligence and security are any more functional? The same conflicted people.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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