McCarthy Strikes Out Three Democrats
One of the premier venues for ensuring our national security is the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The committee is charged with “oversight of the United States Intelligence Community — which includes the intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the following seventeen elements of the U.S. Government — and the Military Intelligence Program.” Put simply, the committee assesses both domestic and international threats and considers how we should respond to them.
To be on the Intelligence Committee requires a high level of discretion and exceptional good judgment. When these things are not present, the suitability of any given member to serve on the Committee has to be called into question.
This is why Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has removed two Democrats from the committee. He is also seeking to remove a third, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), from serving on the House Foreign Relations Committee. He is charged with partisan bias and even “grievance politics” and “political vengeance,” as if his action were a matter of pettiness or childish tit-for-tat.
I don’t know the speaker’s motives. But I do applaud his decision.
Eric Swalwell is a California Democrat whose ambition seems to outweigh his judgment. In late 2020, it was revealed that Swalwell had a long association with a Chinese intelligence agent named Christine Fang. Fang had raised funds for Swalwell and placed “at least one intern in his [congressional] office.” According to American intelligence sources, Fang also “used political gatherings, civic society conferences, campaign rallies, and campus events to connect with elected officials and other prominent figures.”
Having worked on campaigns and on Capitol Hill for many years, I’ve seen a lot of Christine Fangs, people who show up at various events, suddenly act like your closest friend, and try to worm their way into the campaign or the office. They are all smiles and fawn over the politician for whom they wish to volunteer.
These are people to watch with a keen eye. Their attempted intrusions and often mysterious wealth raise mental alarms among everyone with even a modest amount of political seasoning. Apparently they did not for Eric Swalwell, which makes his presence on one of our premier intelligence panels entirely unwise.
Adam Schiff, another California Democrat, has become something of a punching bag for conservative commentators. However, even if you peel away any exaggerated criticism, Schiff’s record as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee is, at best, questionable. Former Republican Congressman and member of the Intelligence Committee Trey Gowdy reports that Schiff “leaks like a screen door on a submarine.” Former CIA Director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said recently, “During my time as CIA director and secretary of state, I know that he leaked classified information that had been provided to him.” Pompeo continued, “When we provided information to him and to his staff, it ended up in places it shouldn’t have been with alarming regularity.”
When credible people like Gowdy and Pompeo tell us Schiff cannot be trusted to retain classified information, we need to take their counsel seriously.
Finally, Ilhan Omar is a Democrat who has represented Minneapolis and some of its suburbs since 2019. Ranging from an adulterous affair with a campaign consultant to consistent and transparent anti-Semitism, Omar has brought continued disgrace upon the House of Representatives. She has expressed views so extreme that one wonders if she’s ever read the Constitution to which she has pledged “true faith and allegiance.”
Omar has equated aspects of American foreign policy with those of the Taliban. In 2021, the Islamist militant group Hamas “fired 170 rockets in 30 minutes into Israel, making the total 630 rockets fired” in a period of 24 hours. Almost all of the attacks were “on civilian targets — apartment buildings, schools.” When Israel struck back, trying to avoid civilian casualties, Omar wrote, “Israel air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism.” She was, of course, silent about Hamas’s brutality.
Healthy debate about and criticism of U.S. military actions and international relations is valuable. Disparaging one’s country and placing it on the same plane as groups of vicious murderers cannot be countenanced. She does not deserve a place on a committee charged with reviewing American foreign policy.
Some Republicans are ambivalent about preventing Omar from joining the Foreign Relations Committee. They should not be. Keeping her from this pivotal committee is not about partisanship, Islamophobia, or personal vendettas. It is about the national security and vital interests of the United States and her allies.
A final note: The new Democratic House Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, is calling on the speaker to deny New York Republican George Santos any committee appointments. I agree with Jeffries. Santos is a liar of epic proportions. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day; in this case, so is Jeffries.
Rob Schwarzwalder is Senior Lecturer in Regent University's Honors College.