Monday, February 23, 2004

Republican Hack As details of the Senate Judiciary memo-pilfering story began to trickle out late last year, I assumed that, if cyberoffenses had been committed, they were almost certain to have been the work of a young, inexperienced staff member. News reports indicating that a Senate "aide" was at the focus of the inquiry only reinforced those preconceptions.

So by the time Republican staffer Manuel Miranda resigned on February 9, I had cobbled together a picture of the alleged hacker: Young and lanky with short hair, he was--in my mental image--one of those puzzled-looking twenty-somethings who spend their C-SPAN cameos whispering into the ears of hearing-impaired senators.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when on Saturday afternoon I was confronted with Fox News footage of the realManuel Miranda--a man who, far from being the fresh-faced youth I'd imagined, looks more like that kid's fifty-five year-old uncle.

The story takes on a different hue, I think you'll agree, when you realize that the focus of the inquiry is not some rogue college intern, but rather a senior member of the senate staff. Because Miranda is no patsy, his resignation makes clear that this controversy--wherever it goes from here--is about something more interesting and complicated than the poor judgment of a Washington newcomer.

Which begs the question: Who is this Miranda fellow?

A jaunt around the information superhighway revealed the following about the man currently at the center of the Judiciary Committee controversy:

An international corporate lawyer and 1982 graduate of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, Miranda is the former president of the board of directions of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization that fights secularization (while promoting, "the search and transmission of all truth, including the fundamental truths revealed by Christ through His Church") at Catholic universities.

(Click here to see a press release in his name applauding, among other things, the banning of Planned Parenthood at Gonzaga University.)

A former aide to Sen. Orrin Hatch's and a staffer for the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee, Miranda was working on judicial nominations for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist at the time of his resignation.

Perhaps more interesting than his biography, however, is the wisdom he shared with CNSNews.com in the wake of his resignation late last week. Telling the right-wing news site that, "the profit motive" rather than ideological conviction, is what motivates "abortion lobbyists" and others to oppose President Bush's judicial nominees, he continued:

"It isn't just about 'abortion rights,' the battle is about abortion profits," Miranda explained. "The axis of profits that undergirds the fight in the Judiciary Committee is the axis between trial lawyers - who want particular types of judges who rule in particular ways on their cases - and, not the 'abortion rights' lobby, but the abortion clinics ' lobby.

"The 'abortion rights' lobby is just a front for something much worse," Miranda continued, "which is the abortion clinics' lobby, represented by the National Abortion Federation."

Miranda claimed abortion clinics make, on average, $1,000 profit for every abortion they perform.
"That's where the money is," Miranda insisted. "That's what is really happening here."

A revealing bit of analysis from a man who just two weeks ago was under the employ of the Senate's first Doctor/Majority Leader.

It also happens to be one of the nuttiest allegations I've ever heard.

This much is clear: If these are the kind of sagacious insights that Miranda spent his working hours delivering to Sen. Frist, his departure isn't any great loss.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.