DEMOCRATS' control of Congress gives them an opportunity to use hearings as a way to develop their favorite issues for the 1992 presidential campaign.
Here are 15 questions Senate Democrats should ask Robert Gates at the upcoming confirmation hearings on his nomination to be director of central intelligence.
1. Did George Bush, while he was vice president, take part in any of the 1985-1986 negotiations with Iran involving the United States' sale of arms to that country in exchange for the release of American hostages?
2. Did Mr. Bush, while vice president, take part in any of the 1985-1986 activities related to diverting profits from the sale of those arms to the contras in Nicaragua?
3. Did Mr. Bush, while a candidate for vice president in 1980, negotiate a deal with Iranians in Paris or elsewhere in which it nTC was agreed that if the hostages were not released before the election but were released after, a Reagan-Bush administration would arrange for arms sales to Iran?
4. Did Mr. Bush, while director of central intelligence in 1976, mislead presidential candidate Jimmy Carter in briefings, in an attempt to sabotage his campaign?
5. Did Mr. Bush, on orders from President Ford in 1976, mislead Congress, which was investigating the CIA, rather than cooperate with it, as the director he replaced, William Colby, had been doing?
6. Did Mr. Bush, when he was chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1974, advise President Nixon on how to cover up the break-in at the Democratic National Committee office in the Watergate complex and help him do it?
7. As a member of the House of Representatives 1967-1971, did Mr. Bush vote for the oil depletion allowance, which allowed wealthy oilmen to avoid paying federal taxes?
8. In 1964, when he was a delegate to the Republican national convention, did Mr. Bush applaud Barry Goldwater's remark that "extremism in defense of liberty is no vice"?
9. Was Prescott Bush, the president's father, friendly with the demagogue Sen. Joseph McCarthy while they served in the Senate together in the 1950s?
10. Did Prescott Bush agree with Richard Nixon in 1952 that he didn't have to give Checkers back?
11. Did Prescott Bush while a Senate candidate in 1950 irresponsibly smear President Harry Truman as being corrupt and soft on communism?
12. As a partner in the banking house of Brown Brothers Harriman and Co., wasn't Prescott Bush a supporter of Herbert Hoover and what Franklin D. Roosevelt called a "plutocrat" and an "economic royalist"?
13. Didn't President Hoover deliberately cause the Great Depression, then do nothing to end it because Republicans are only concerned about rich people?
14. Why did President Harding allow Teapot Dome?
15. And what about the Credit Mobilier?