Rep. Hastings: 'Qualified and Prepared'

Saturday, November 11, 2006

In Ruth Marcus's Nov. 1 op-ed column, "Pelosi's Unintelligent Choice," selection of Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) to a leadership position on the House intelligence committee was characterized as "unintelligent." I disagree.

I have known Mr. Hastings for more than 30 years to be a man of intellect and character. For 14 years he has faithfully served his constituents in the House. Their regard for his service is such that he had neither primary nor general election opposition this year. For seven of those years he has been a member of the intelligence committee, and soon he will be its most senior Democrat. In my capacity as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I worked closely with Mr. Hastings during the joint inquiry of the House and Senate on the role of the intelligence community before and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. He was a conscientious and contributing member of the inquiry.

The column focused on events of the early 1980s that led to his acquittal in a criminal case and his removal from the federal district court by the Senate. Having been governor of Florida during that period and known about most of the key participants, I found the circumstantial case against Judge Hastings to be unconvincing, and I voted against his removal. Twenty-five years later, it would be wrong for those allegations to deny Mr. Hastings the position of leadership for which he is qualified and prepared.


Miami Lakes, Fla.

The writer, a Democrat, represented Florida in the Senate from 1987 to 2004.

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