[UPDATE x3 10-1-06 7:23 a.m.: I'm putting this update at the head of the post, since my previous updates didn't make my position clear enough. Let me spell it out here.
With an inadequate knowledge when I first posted, I failed to distinguish between slightly creepy e-mails (which Hastert appears to have known about), and overtly sexual ones that may be criminal (which he does not appear to have known about).
This is a huge difference.
Maf54: You in your boxers, too?
Teen: Nope, just got home. I had a college interview that went late.
Maf54: Well, strip down and get relaxed.
Maf54: What ya wearing?
Teen: tshirt and shorts
Maf54: Love to slip them off of you.
And this one:
Maf54: Do I make you a little horny?
Teen: A little.
The language gets much more graphic, too graphic to be broadcast, and at one point the congressman appears to be describing Internet sex.
According to experts quoted in the story, this could be criminal, under the very laws Foley helped pass:
Federal authorities say such messages could result in Foley's prosecution, under some of the same laws he helped to enact.
"Adds up to soliciting underage children for sex," said Brad Garrett, a former FBI agent and now an ABC News consultant. "And what it amounts to is serious both state and federal violations that could potentially get you a number of years."
Now, the first I read of Hastert's knowledge was on Captain Ed's blog, and I had the impression after reading Ed's post that Hastert knew of all of the disgusting messages. I unfortunately did not click through his link to the story or read anything else before posting this post. Within minutes, Allah commented to let me know that I was jumping to conclusions. I instantly updated the post (after the post had been up for 19 minutes) to reflect this.
Having read more widely on the topic, it appears Allah is right. Hastert stands accused by Tom Reynolds, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, of having known about a different set of e-mails that are summarized this way:
In the series of e-mails, obtained by ABC News, from Rep. Foley (R-FL) to the former page, Foley asks the young man how old he is, what he wants for his birthday and requests a photo of him.
The kid was creeped out, and I don't really blame him.
I think Ed's position is that Hastert appears to have lied; on Friday he says he knew nothing about this, and since then it has become fairly clear he was told about the more innocuous e-mails. He is no longer denying this; he merely says he doesn't remember it. I agree with Ed that this is a concern, but -- if you keep the e-mail strands separate -- it's not as clear to me as it is to Ed that Hastert lied. Accordingly, I am no longer of the opinion that Hastert should resign now. But I do think this merits further investigation.
By the way, I think there is some misunderstanding out there on both sides; John from Power Line wrote a post that described the messages as "over-friendly," which leads me to wonder whether John is even aware of the nastier messages.
Here is the original post:]
Captain Ed says Dennis Hastert knew about Foley’s inappropriate contact with an underage page months ago, and that Hastert should resign.
Sounds fine to me. Long-time readers know I am no fan of Hastert’s anyway. Hastert is the guy I called a “moron” for claiming that the raid on William Jefferson’s office was an affront to the Constitution. Because the word fits, I also called him a “moron” for smearing George Soros.
Now it appears he is more than just a moron. He is a Roger Mahony-style accessory after the fact to men with an unhealthy interest in young boys. If the current allegations are true — and it sure seems that they are — I wholeheartedly agree. Hastert must resign his leadership position. I’ll go further than Ed: I think he should resign entirely.
UPDATE 9:26 p.m.: Allah says we should all take a deep breath, and that Hastert may not have known the worst.
He’s still a moron, but that’s obviously not enough to make someone resign from Congress . . .
UPDATE x2: To make this clear: we need to know what Hastert knew and when. But it’s not clear (although some make it sound that way, and I was taken in myself at first, albeit for only 19 minutes, before I updated the post) that Hastert knew about the overtly sexual messages ahead of time. That’s a big distinction, and we should not allow the media to blur it.
UPDATE x4 (x3 is up top): I have written Ed to ask him to clarify the difference between the two strands of e-mails. I think he plans a third update. I have also written John from Power Line to ask if he is aware of the worst of the Foley messages.
UPDATE x5: John Hinderaker writes to say that, indeed, he had been unaware of the worst of the messages. He knew only about the ones Hastert had been told about, and had posted to make clear that what Hastert had been told about wasn’t all that terrible, which is true.
He has updated his post in response to my e-mail.