“Dysfunctional” House Intelligence Committee


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.

OUR NEW CORRUPTION PROJECT

The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate