- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Rep. Anthony Weiner, New York Democrat, has been embroiled in a scandal since a close-up photo of a man’s crotch was sent from his Twitter account to a female college student last weekend. Mr. Weiner denies sending the photo, but he cannot say with “certitude” whether the image was of his own private parts. His story isn’t adding up.

Mr. Weiner has been careful to point out that his Twitter account is private, but his spokesman did not respond to questions from The Washington Times about whether the congressman was on his government-issued BlackBerry when the photo was sent via Twitter. The congressman only told reporters that he was “tweeting at the time” that he was supposedly hacked. If he was using his work BlackBerry, the normal protocol for a security breach would be to report it immediately to the House Information Resources (HIR) division for an investigation. A House aide familiar with procedures said that, “If a member’s account has been hacked, HIR would launch an immediate investigation to preserve the security of the member’s data.” HIR can also remotely shut down any compromised congressional device to ensure it is not misused. The aide said that Mr. Weiner made no such report.

The photo in the tweet does appear to have been taken from a BlackBerry. In order to get a photo off such a device, it would have to have been either sent across the Internet or someone would need to physically grab the device. BlackBerry prides itself on providing high-level security good enough for the president himself to use. Instead of calling HIR, the Capitol Police or the FBI about such a serious incident, he called a lawyer. Then, in his own words, he hired an “Internet security firm to take a look at my private Internet feed.” Neither would have the abilities of federal law enforcement investigators to wield subpoenas in the hunt for the identity of the real hackers.

Both the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics declined to say whether they would take a look at the situation.

Mr. Weiner has done nothing criminal, but neither have other members forced to step down. Earlier this year Rep. Chris Lee was accused of posting shirtless photos of himself to women through Craigslist, and House Speaker John Boehner told the New York Republican to resign immediately. Within hours, Mr. Lee was out the door. By contrast, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants to maintain business as usual. During votes Thursday afternoon, Mr. Weiner worked the floor to make sure the Democrats voted the party line. He slapped backs, laughed, ran up and down the aisles and into the cloakroom.

It would be better for the institution if Mr. Weiner were to come clean. Once again he seems poised to prove that it’s always the cover-up that gets you in trouble.

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