WASHINGTON - Convicted congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a new study says, took advantage of secrecy and badgered congressional aides to help slip items into classified bills that would benefit him and his associates.
That finding comes from Michael Stern, an outside investigator hired by the House Intelligence Committee to look into how Cunningham carried out his scheme. Stern is working with the committee to fix vulnerabilities in the way top-secret legislation is written, said congressional officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the committee still is being briefed on Stern's findings.
Cunningham's case puts a stark spotlight on the oversight of classified — or "black" — budgets. Unlike legislation dealing with social and economic issues, intelligence bills and parts of defense bills are written in private, in the name of national security.