Originally created 08/27/99

Hart's comeuppance



House Republicans are to be applauded for getting a veteran Pentagon security investigator his job back after he was ousted for... doing his job.

The problem arose when David Kerno of the Defense Security Service conducted a routine investigation of Gary Hart, named by Defense Secretary William Cohen to a sensitive national security advisory board.

Hart, the arrogant former U.S. senator whose extramarital sexual peccadilloes cost him a shot at the Democrats' presidential nomination in 1988, complained to the Pentagon brass when Kerno inquired into his sexual past.

For 19 years the investigator had made similar inquiries into the background of appointees seeking security clearance, without any repercussions. It was in the book, part of the job. An embarrassing sexual history can open a person up to blackmail.

This time, though, Kerno was taken off the job and charged with pursuing improper questions about Hart's personal life. The charge, of course, was a farce. This was simply a case of a frustrated "big shot" throwing his weight around.

Fortunately, it didn't work -- at least not for long. When several powerful members of Congress threatened to hold public hearings over the patently unfair firing, Kerno was reinstated. Clearly, the Pentagon would have been embarrassed to have this matter aired in public.

Now the investigation can get back to fundamentals. Is whiny Gary Hart a security risk or not?