After a Number of Miranda Wrongs, Former Senate Aide Is Headed for Iraq

By Mary Ann Akers And Paul Kane
Thursday, November 15, 2007

What a surprise to find an old face on the Hill yesterday -- former Senate GOP leadership aide Manuel Miranda-- but an even bigger surprise was learning his new job: giving legislative advice to fledgling democrats in Baghdad.

Miranda's official title is director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. There, he's giving instruction on democratic principles to Iraqi lawyers and lawmakers, a group of whom he escorted around the Capitol complex yesterday.

Where did Miranda hone his own legislative statecraft? At the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this decade, where he led an 18-month effort to pilfer documents from the Democratic staff.

Miranda, who moved on to work as judicial nominations counsel for then-Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in 2003, was forced from his job in early 2004 after an internal Senate investigation determined he and a junior aide had swiped 4,670 documents, memos and e-mails.

Miranda subsequently acknowledged doing so. He said that because the committee had no internal password protection at the time, no laws were broken when he looked through and printed out other aides' electronic files.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), whose aides were the targets of more than half the stolen documents, let out a loud laugh upon learning of Miranda's current job.

"He's back," Durbin said. "Tell him to stay away from my computer."

Durbin was part of a bipartisan group of senators who recommended that federal authorities investigate Miranda. But after interviewing many committee and leadership staff, prosecutors dropped the case.

Thankfully, the new job doesn't require day-to-day contacts with Democrats.

After leaving the Hill, Miranda became a hero among social conservatives as an activist pushing for the confirmation of President Bush's judicial nominations. Miranda issued regular e-mails to reporters disparaging Democrats, including one that challenged Durbin to "meet me in an alley."

He was hired a year ago by the State Department for his gig in Baghdad, where he's teaching the Iraqis legal principles.

Such diplomacy these days could land Miranda in hot water, given that the senatorial overseer of State's purse strings is now Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Foggy Bottom's budget. Leahy is also chairman of the Judiciary committee. Many of his staff's documents were accessed by Miranda.

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