Back in January, the leadership of the House Intelligence Committee vowed to thoroughly review all of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham‘s (R-CA) dealings in their committee. Since then we’ve heard bupkus. What’s the deal?
I called the committee’s spokesman, Jamal Ware, who assured me the “thorough and far-reaching” review was moving along. But the details he provided weren’t so assuring.
The probe is essentially a one-man show featuring Nick Stern, a senior aide on loan from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ investigative subcommittee. Stern is slowly plowing through documents and interviewing members and their staff about Cunningham’s indelicacies.Committee chair Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) and ranking member Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) have each loaned Stern one staffer to help out, but they haven’t cut back on their aides’ regular duties. (With Stern, the two also “monitor the process” for Hoekstra and Harman, Ware said.)
The Duke-Stir, we know, has already confessed to using his spot on that secretive committee to swing sensitive intelligence and defense contracts to a handful of his buddies’ companies, in return for millions of dollars in bribes. Is there more muck to be raked?
Not so far, Ware said. Stern has turned up nothing adverse that should be forwarded to federal investigators.
Stern updates the chair and ranking member every week on his progress, Ware told me. There’s no end date to the review, although Ware said it probably wouldn’t last past November (“I’d be surprised if it went beyond that,” he said). Disappointingly, Hoekstra still hasn’t decided to release a public version of Stern’s final report.
I ran the facts down with Steven Aftergood, an intelligence and government secrecy expert with the Federation of American Scientist, and he agreed it didn’t sound good. “If itâs really conducted entirely behind closed doors, that could quickly smother the whole enterprise,” he said. If Stern gets stonewalled, “we’re not necessarily going to hear about it.”