Anthony Weiner is digging in. Last week, Weiner announced his intention to stay in office despite his embarrassing high-tech sex scandal. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi kindly signaled her support saying the decision should be up to the Congressman and his New York constituents. Lucky for Weiner, it appears the majority of his constituents still support him; a recent poll showed 56 percent of his voters say he should stay in office.
The hubris and arrogance exhibited by Weiner should surprise no one. His lack of morals and profound narcissism lead him to his only choice: Do what’s right for me!
But there are some important things to consider if Weiner does indeed survive this political storm. For instance, should Weiner be trusted with access to classified intelligence information? Under clause 13 of House rule XXIII, House members have access to classified information if they complete an oath requiring they not disclose any of the information they receive. According to the Office of the Clerk of the House, Weiner executed that oath earlier this year.
But let’s consider the security clearance guidelines that determine if a person raises a security concern:
1) Sexual behavior of a criminal nature: If it is proved that Weiner did in fact have an online dalliance with a 17-year old girl, his actions could indeed be found criminal.
2) Compulsive or addictive sexual behavior when the person is unable to stop a pattern of self-destructive or high-risk behavior or which is symptomatic of a personality disorder: Weiner himself called his behavior risky and self-destructive. He admitted he had trouble putting an end to these “relationships” even after his marriage to Huma Abedin.
3) Sexual behavior that causes an individual to be vulnerable to coercion, exploitation or duress: Weiner’s sexual behavior has certainly caused him duress and it’s clear by his “panicked” reaction that he was vulnerable to coercion and exploitation. As it happened, it was Weiner himself who exposed his sexual proclivities but what if, instead, one of his internet “friends” threatened to broadcast the picture? The result would have been similar panic that might have made Weiner vulnerable to blackmail.
4) Sexual behavior of a public nature and/or which reflects lack of discretion or judgment: There’s no question that Weiner understands social media and has a firm grasp on technology. He obviously understood that these pictures could become public. The very act of sending someone a picture of one’s private parts shows a lack of discretion and judgment.
Congressman Weiner has simply shown he can’t be trusted. More importantly, Weiner put himself squarely in a situation that left him vulnerable to extortion. While we’ll never know the steps Weiner would have taken to protect himself and his family from the embarrassment of his twitter scandal, that’s the point, right? We’ll never know; so why should the intelligence community risk it?
These entanglements are nothing new for politicians and, in fact, there are much more shocking examples than Weinergate. There’s a rich history of politicians putting themselves in compromising positions; even among those occupying the highest public offices. For instance, President Kennedy engaged in an extramarital affair with Judith Exner at the same time she was in a relationship with Chicago mobster Sam Giancana. And of course there’s the Profumo Affair in which British Secretary of War John Profumo carried on an affair with the mistress of a Russian spy. While Kennedy’s liaison with Ms. Exner didn’t become public until years after his assassination, Profumo’s career was ended when his affair was revealed.
Weiner is an ambitious fellow. It’s no secret that he has long had his eye on the New York Mayor’s office. But what would it mean to have a Mayor of New York City who couldn’t be trusted with intelligence information? How would New York fare with a Mayor limited in his ability to properly act in the face of terrorist threats?
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, New York City has built an impressive intelligence infrastructure which includes intelligence gathering and operations centers that rival the federal operations centers in Washington, DC. It would be pretty hard to be an effective Mayor without access to the intelligence system New York City has built up-the very system that keeps the city and its citizens safe.
While this storm might pass for Weiner, the intelligence community should take steps immediately to ensure this weak man never again receives intelligence information. To quote the clearance requirements, the Congressman has, at the very least, created “circumstances that could raise a security concern.”