Manny Miranda

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Manuel Miranda, according to the American Prospect, is a "GOP operative who resigned after hacking into the computers of Senate Democrats and downloading documents related to their strategies on judicial nominations." [1][2] Among his jobs following this infamous resignation, Miranda was given a post writing opinion pieces for the Wall Street Journal.[3] Miranda also received an appointment by the Bush administration as a "rule of law" advisor to the government of Iraq.[4]

History

Miranda is a Cuban American who arrived in the U.S. from Spain at the age of seven. He attended Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service from 1978 to 1982. He founded the male-only group, the "Stewards Society." He later advised and wrote for the university's conservative newspaper, the "Georgetown Academy," founded in 1991.[5]

Controversy

Miranda graduated from Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco in 1987, and he began working for prominent law firms on the east coast.[6] In 1989, while representing a group of plaintiffs including one past president of the Georgetown University Alumni Association, he was arrested after refusing to leave a Georgetown alumni board meeting, where he attempted to vote as a proxy for a board member.[7] He sued Georgetown for false arrest.[8] The case was dismissed by Judge Harold Greene who noted that "Notwithstanding [Manny Miranda's] effort to portray this case in apocalyptic terms as if it were an overriding human rights or civil rights struggle on a par with those of Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela rather than a relatively pedestrian disagreement between groups of alumni, the issue before the Court is not complex.”[9] His personal suit for false arrest was settled by the university while the case was on appeal, despite the district court's earlier dismissal of his claims.[10]

In 1998, Miranda left law firm practice to became the head of the Cardinal Newman Society (for which he had previously served on the board), whose goal is to ensure that Catholic colleges remain "authentically" Catholic, including by challenging the appointment of professors or selection of speakers who are pro-choice.[11] He used this post to assail Georgetown's President Leo O'Donovan.[12] He also helped create of the Georgetown anti-feminist group, the Women's Guild.[13]

Scandal

In 2001, Miranda was hired to serve as a counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee for Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah on nominations.[14] He worked closely with Sean Rushton at the Committee for Justice,[15] which was founded by tobacco scion and former White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray, and was promoted in 2003 to serve as the top advisor on judicial nominations to the then-new Republican Majority Leader, Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee[16] after Republicans won the Senate in the mid-term 2002 elections and Senator Trent Lott resigned from Republican leadership for saying he wished the segregationist Dixiecrats had won the White House in 1948. From this post, Miranda helped orchestrate campaigns, in conjunction with the Committee for Justice, against Democrats blocking President George W. Bush's judicial nominees, calling them "anti-Catholic," "anti-Hispanic," and "anti-woman," among other things, depending on the nominee's background.[17]

In November 2003, Miranda organized a rare over-night debate on the filibusters of a handful of Bush's judicial nominees.[18] In preparation for the start of that PR event, Miranda sent an e-mail to all Republican Senate offices urging them to wrap up any Senate business before 6 PM because Fox News wanted to lead off its national broadcast with a shot of Republican Senators marching onto the Senate Floor.[19] A Republican office was apparently so offended by this effort to subordinate the business of the U.S. Senate to a commercial TV broadcast that he or she forwarded Miranda's widely disseminated broadcast e-mail to Democratic offices.[20] Senator Frank Lautenberg and others referenced Miranda's e-mail, noting on the floor of the Senate that Senator Frist's office had attempted to orchestrate the Senate debate to coordinate with FOX News' Brit Hume.[21]

In retaliation for these embarrassing revelations, Miranda circulated the confidential memos and draft files, which he had been secretly taking for several months from Democratic staffers' computer files without their knowledge; excerpts were published the next day in the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.[22] Some of the surreptitiously taken memos were also published by the right-wing Coalition for a Fair Judiciary (CFJ), and some of the pages that were initially posted by CFJ included electronic file stamps mentioning Miranda by name but after he initially denied he was the source of the memos the file stamps were redacted and re-posted by CFJ.[23] In response to the fact that Democratic Senators' confidential staff files were obviously improperly accessed for the Wall Street Journal's editorials attacking the Democrats, the Capitol Police were called to seize the Senate Judiciary Committee's computer servers, and the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms commenced a forensic investigation into what became known as "Memogate." Miranda resigned in disgrace from Senator Frist's staff, and the politically independent Sergeant at Arms issued a report detailing Miranda's dishonest actions in taking files that did not belong to him and urged that the case be referred for a criminal investigation into violations of 18 U.S.C. 1001 (lying to federal law enforcement) and various federal computer crimes.[24] The Bush Administration chose not to prosecute Miranda. Once the evidence was indisputable, Miranda admitted he had taken the private memos to Democratic Senators, draft documents, and saved e-mails, but he asserted, among other rationales, "My parents never taught me not to read other people’s mail. They always read my mail."[25] Senator Hatch, however, recognized that the actions of his former staffer was an "improper, unethical, and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files.”[26]

Post-Memogate Scandal Activism

After leaving Capitol Hill, Miranda organized the "National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters" which lent support for the "nuclear option" that he had pioneered as a member of Senator Frist's team. [27] (The "nuclear option" was designed to have Vice President Dick Cheney, acting as President of the Senate, declare the Senate's centuries' old filibuster rule unconstitutional and prevent the use of filibusters to stall Bush administration judicial nominees, including to the Supreme Court.) This group became the "Third Branch Conference," a right-wing coalition with no apparent staff other than Miranda.[28] Right-wing former Attorney General Ed Meese then secured Miranda a post as a Fellow at the Heritage Foundation,[29] and in 2005 Miranda was given a slot writing op-eds for the Wall Street Journal editorial page.[30]

In 2006, the American Conservative Union gave Miranda its "Ronald Reagan" Award at its Conservative Political Action Committee Conference.[31] This recognition is believed to be in reward for loss of his job at the Senate and his subsequent efforts to keep Bush confidante Harriet Miers off the Supreme Court, paving the way for more reliably right-wing ideologues, like John Roberts and Samuel Alito.[32] In the waning years of the Bush Administration, Miranda also formed a new organization, Families First on Immigration, to take "religiously grounded positions on immigration" and specifically to urge amending the Constitution to bar Americans born in the U.S. from their rights as citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment if their parents were not lawfully present in the U.S.[33]

Bush Administration Appointment

In 2007, Miranda was chosen by the Bush Administration's State Department to be the "Director of Legislative Statecraft" at the U.S. Embassy in Iraq, and obtained the security clearances to do so despite the criminal referral by the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms.[34]

Opposition to Democratic Judicial Nominees

After completing his tenure as "rule of law" advisor to the government of Iraq, Miranda returned to the U.S. to unsuccessfully fight the nomination by President Barack Obama of Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.[35]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Adam Serwer Manny Miranda's Creative Approach TAPPED, The American Prospect Group Blog, June 2, 2009
  2. John M. Powers, “Hatch and Frist fire whistle-blower,” Insight on the News, April 26, 2004, p. 24.
  3. Lisa Graves Wall Street Journal Becomes "Top" U.S. Paper: Memories of Memogate and Manny Miranda, Center for Media and Democracy blog, October 15, 2009
  4. Lisa Graves Wall Street Journal Becomes "Top" U.S. Paper: Memories of Memogate and Manny Miranda, Center for Media and Democracy blog, October 15, 2009
  5. Srinivas Rao, Campus Progress, Know Your Right-Wing Ideologues April 23, 2007.
  6. Id.
  7. Id.
  8. Id.
  9. Harold H. Greene [Miranda v. Presidents and Directors for Georgetown College, et al., Defendants Court ruling. April 20, 1993
  10. See Miranda response to Campus Progress blog above that appears below the blog entry.
  11. Id.
  12. Id.
  13. Id.
  14. Id.
  15. People for the American Way, Right Wing Watch,"Manny Miranda," http://www.rightwingwatch.org/category/individuals/manuel-miranda, noting that "From the fall of 2001 until January 2003, when Miranda left the Judiciary Committee to work for Senator Frist, he and (Jason) Lundell downloaded several thousand internal Democratic documents and possibly shared them with other Republican staffers and the media. Miranda repeatedly requested files from Lundell even after he began working for Frist and thus no longer had access to the Judiciary Committee’s server. At one point Miranda even asked Lundell to “undertake a discreet mission” to gather documents and provide them to Sean Rushton, Executive Director of the Committee for Justice, so that he could build up a relationship with the press. Lundell replied that he would be “happy to assist in this covert action” and subsequently e-mailed Rushton 169 documents. Lundell and others speculated that Miranda himself also turned over documents to Rushton and others but Miranda denies this... (even though) 'documents contained a directory path that forensic review determined came from “an e-mail from a web page that was viewed and printed by Miranda with Internet Explorer.'"
  16. See id.
  17. Id.
  18. Id.
  19. E.g., Congressional Record, p. S14722 (November 12, 2003), which can be accessed through www.thomas.gov. Here is an excerpt: Mr. LAUTENBERG. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Minnesota. It is obvious he is outraged at the triviality that is being thrown out here about how we are violating our oath and violating our standards. Think about this. We are now in the 32nd hour of this talkathon on judicial nominations, brought to you by the Republican Party. I guess the first 30 hours were so successful they decided to extend the hours. But instead of helping anyone promoting a good cause, Republicans are using this staged event to push for job applicants who are unfit to take the job. They are unfit, they are unqualified, they have shown they are likely to abuse their authority as circuit court judges who advance an extreme rightwing agenda and not in the best interests of America. The Republicans so desperately wanted this talkathon to be a made-for-television movie they attempted to coordinate their efforts with FOX News, the providers of fair and balanced Republican television. It comes from the distinguished majority leader's office, one of his staff people. It says: ``It is important to double your efforts to get your boss to S. 230 on time. FOX News channel is really excited about this marathon. Brit Hume at 6 would love to open with all of our 51 Senators walking onto the floor. The producer wants to know we will walk in exactly at 6:02 when the show starts so they can get it live to open Brit Hume's show. If not, can we give them an exact time for the walk in start? That hardly sounds like a sincere effort to me to get something done. I hear the outrage about how we are playing politics on this side. What is this? If that is not raw production, I have never seen it. Line up. I wonder if the suit colors and ties were described at the same time. It is good to see a bunch of penguins walking down here 51 deep. FOX News presents--it says 30 hours. They made a mistake. They didn't know how enjoyable this was, that we were going to go on with this.... (On the video, which is not easily accessible, Senator Lautenberg referred to a poster made of the e-mail from Senator Frist's office, from Manny Miranda, although he did not mention him by name in his speech).
  20. See id.
  21. Id.
  22. Editorial, ‘He Is Latino’, WALL ST. J., Nov. 14, 2003, at A12.
  23. See United States Senate Sergeant at Arms, Report on the Investigation into Improper Access to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Computer System (known as the "Pickle Report," after the Sergeant at Arms who led the several-month's long investigation), http://cryptome.org/judiciary-sys.htm (referencing http://fairjudiciary.com/cfj_contents/press/collusionmemos.shtml)
  24. http://www.dkosopedia.com/index.php/Pickle_Report.
  25. See Campus Progress above.
  26. Id.
  27. National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters, National Coalition to End Judicial Filibusters Letter to Senators", April 4, 2005. Miranda was listed as the contact at the foot of the letter.
  28. See Campus Progress above
  29. Id.
  30. http://www.opinionjournal.com/nextjustice/archive/
  31. Robert B. Bluey, "Manuel Miranda: Big Winner at CPAC", Human Events, February 10, 2006.
  32. See Campus Progress; see also http://www.committeeforjustice.org/blog/2006/07/new-press-release-from-third-branch.html, Committee for Justice Blog, July 13, 2006.
  33. Id.;Bill Berkowitz, "Christian Conservatives call for end of 14th Amendment citizenship birthright", Media Transparency, January 16, 2007.
  34. See Mary Ann Akers and Paul Kane, "After a Number of Miranda Wrongs, Former Senate Aide Is Headed to Iraq," After a Number of Miranda Wrongs, Former Senate Aide is Headed to Iraq, Washington Post, "November 15, 2007; and see his Letter to the Editor in response to this article claiming that all Senators' files should be public, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/27/AR2007112702173.html
  35. See Bill Berkowitz, "Manny Miranda's Mission -- Build a Movement While Taking on Sonia Sotomayor," Buzzflash.com, June 9, 2009.

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