Saturday, February 04, 2006

Did Someone In The White House or V.P.'s Office Delete 2003 E-Mails Related To The CIA Leak Investigation?

Oh, can you imagine the fun Ken Starr and the rest of the Clinton Impeachment team would have had if this had happened in, say, 1998? From the Associated Press:

Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is raising the possibility that records sought in the CIA leak investigation could be missing because of an e-mail archiving problem at the White House.

The prosecutor in the criminal case against Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff said in a Jan. 23 letter that not all e-mail was archived in 2003, the year the Bush administration exposed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Lawyers for defendant I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby this week accused prosecutors of withholding evidence the Libby camp says it needs to mount a defense.

"We are aware of no evidence pertinent to the charges against defendant Libby which has been destroyed," Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to the defense team.

But the prosecutor added: "In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all e-mail of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of the President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." His letter was an exhibit attached to Libby's demand for more information from the prosecution.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, said the vice president's office was cooperating fully with the investigation, and referred questions to Fitzgerald's office.

Libby is charged with five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI regarding how he learned of Plame's identity and what he did with the information.

The Presidential Records Act, passed by Congress in 1978, made it clear that records generated in the conduct of official duties did not belong to the president or vice president, but were the property of the government.

The National Archives takes custody of the records when the president leaves office.

"Bottom line: Accidents happen and there could be a benign explanation, but this is highly irregular and invites suspicion," said Steve Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' government secrecy project.

Invites suspicion indeed.

These missing e-mails are from 2003, which was right about the the time Scooter, Dickie, Karl and the rest of the boys and girls in the Bush administration were busy trying to discredit Joe Wilson and out his wife as a covert CIA operative to members of the press.

This matter needs a formal investigation.

Destruction of evidence in a criminal matter is a felony, and the Congress should certainly take a look at this.

Of course, a GOP controlled Congress isn't likely to do much about destruction of evidence by members of its own party, which is why it is paramount that the Democratic Party take control of either the House, the Senate, or both later this year.

We need formal investigations into all of the criminal wrongdoing, partisan hackery masquerading as national security, corruption and incompetence perpetrated by members of this administration upon the American people.

POSTSCRIPT: It is interesting to wonder how Fitzgerald knows some e-mail from 2003 was deleted. Did somebody from the White House or the V.P.'s office tell him about it? Does he have other copies of some (or all) of the deleted e-mails?


Delicious to ponder.

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