Dennis Hastert/Commentary

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Dennis Hastert (John Dennis "Denny" Hastert; 1942- ), Republican politician from Illinois, served in his state's House of Representatives for six years (1980-86) before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1986. In 1999, Hastert was elected to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. He is now serving his third term as Speaker and his ninth term in Congress.

Prior to becoming Speaker, Hastert served as Chief Deputy Majority Whip beginning in 1994. He has served as Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice.

"Chairman Hastert had broad oversight for the Departments of State, Defense and Justice, as well as the nation's War on Drugs and the 2000 Census. As a member of the House Commerce Committee, Hastert had jurisdiction over energy policy, interstate and foreign commerce, broadcast and telecommunications policy, food, health and drug issues ... Additionally, Hastert has been the House Republican point person on health care reform. He has chaired the Speaker's Steering Committee on Health and the Resource Group on Health, and he helped author the health care reform bill, which was signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1996 to expand coverage to the uninsured. In the 105th Congress, Hastert again was tapped by the House Leadership to chair the House Working Group on Health Care Quality, which ultimately authored the Patient Protection Act. That legislation, which passed the House on July 24, 1998, expanded Americans' choices and access to affordable, high-quality health care."[1]

Hastert and Patriot Act II

House Speaker Hastert has the distinction of being one of only two who were "in the know" about the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003, otherwise known as Patriot Act II. A news story in the Seattle Weekly newspaper (week of February 12-18, 2003) by Geov Parrish announced to readers that the nation was "Waiting for the Bullet":

"LATE LAST WEEK, the D.C. advocacy group Center for Public Integrity (CPI) published a leaked copy of a closely held Justice Department secret: the draft language of proposed legislation that would update and sharply expand 2001's USA Patriot Act. It is one of the most horrifying documents ever to come out of a city numbed to horrifying documents. Read it, and get angry--while it's still not a crime ...

"According to both the Center for Public Integrity and a report on 'Now' with Bill Moyers, only Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert are known to have received advance copies of the proposed legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee staff had been told by the Justice Department, as recently as last week, that no such bill was in the works." [2]

Read the full Patriot Act II document

[3] or a synopsis of the Act.[4]

According to one source, on February 10, 2003, it was "discovered that not only was there a House version that had been covertly brought to Speaker Dennis Hastert, but that many provisions of the now public Patriot Act II had already been introduced as pork barrel riders on Senate Bill S. 22. Dozens of subsections and even the titles of the subsections were identical to those in the House version....

"The bill itself is stamped 'Confidential - Not for Distribution.' Upon reading the analysis and bill, [the reader] was stunned by the scientifically crafted tyranny contained in the legislation. The Justice Department Office of Legislative Affairs admits that they had indeed covertly transmitted a copy of the legislation to Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, (R-Il) and the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney as well as the executive heads of federal law enforcement agencies."[5]

The same source states that "the second Patriot Act is a mirror image of powers that Julius Caesar and Adolf Hitler gave themselves. Whereas the First Patriot Act only gutted the First, Third, Fourth and Fifth Amendments [to the Constitution], and seriously damaged the Seventh and Tenth, the Second Patriot Act recognizes the entire Federal government as well as many areas of state government under the dictatorial control of the Justice Department, the Office of Homeland Security and the FEMA U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM/military command). The Domestic Security Enhancement Act 2003, also known as the Second Patriot Act is by its very structure the definition of dictatorship."[6]

Issues/Political Experience

"Hastert opposes abortion and supports the death penalty."

"Although conservative, Hastert is known more as a tactician with a pragmatic, consensus-building style than as a ideological purist. His mentor in Congress was former Minority Leader Bob Michel, a fellow Illinoisan.

"He was intimately involved with pushing the 'Contract with America' legislative agenda through the House in 1995 after Republicans took power. Hastert became one of the Republicans' leading figures on health care issues, overseeing the party's successful opposition to former President William Jefferson Clinton's health care plan in 1994 and later crafting an alternative to Democratic proposals for reforming health maintenance organizations.

"He also led Republican anti-drug initiatives and the GOP's effort to block the Census Bureau from using sampling techniques."

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