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February 05, 2006

Another 18-minute Gap?

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald casually mentioned this last week that email from a critical time period in 2003 is missing.  Now, the White House has an extraordinary archive preservation system that is essentially foolproof.  A copy of every single email that a White House staffer sends goes to records management.  So, what Fitzgerald is saying, evidently, is that somebody was knowingly tampering with a number of emails that might be relevant to the investigation of the outing of CIA covert agent, Valerie Plame.  In his words:

"In an abundance of caution," he writes, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the 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."

And what was the relevance of the time period of the missing emails, you ask?  Hint: Even at the time, those of us following the story, as well as key Democratic leaders, were upset - knowing the door was open wide for concealment.  From Georgia10 at DailyKos:

We all know about the 12 hour gap, that twilight zone between the evening of September 23, 2003 (when Gonzales was informed of the order to preserve evidence) and September 24, 2003 (when Gonzales actually gave the order to retain evidence).  But it's not just a 12 hour gap that provided a chance to tamper with the evidence.  It's a two week gap.  Recall that Gonzales and the rest of the White House lawyers screened every communication before handing it over to Fitzgerald.

There are two intriguing points here: 1) Fitzgerald knows about the missing emails so someone must have talked or he has copies of the missing emails and 2) Attorney General Gonzales is scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow in regard to the legal authority for secret NSA wiretaping, a controversial enough topic itself, and may have to answer questions about these missing emails under oath while he is there.  And Gonzales has already testified about this time period and the screening of the email to the Grand Jury so he is in danger of perjuring himself one way or another.

And as a postscript, Digby reminds us that the Republicans went completely nuts trying to unearth a few emails that had not been properly archived during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  They held hearings, got an Independent Counsel involved, the whole nine yards.  So, as Digby says, they couldn't possibly object to something similar now, could they?

Posted by Lynn Allen on February 5, 2006 at 06:00 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

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