Friday, February 03, 2006

Well Isn't This A Surprise

It seems that AG Gonzales has been stalling to hold up the grand jury looking into Plamegate! And it further turns out that the Vice President's office has been busily deleting emails sent during the time and to the parties under investigation:

"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."


Blogger Management said...

Fitzgerald Reveals Someone's Been Tampering With Evidence?
by georgia10
Wed Feb 01, 2006 at 07:17:28 PM PDT

It's only February 1st, but Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is already having a bad month. First, he has Feingold breathing down his neck about his apparent perjury at his confirmation hearing. Then, Senator Leahy sends him a letter challenging him to explain why the Patriot Act should be reauthorized if the President claims he already has the authority to act unilaterally in the War on Terrorism. Then, Google still refuses to hand over Americans' porn data. And just when poor Alberto thought it couldn't get any worse, Patrick Fitzgerald resurfaces with a startling revelation: someone's been having fun with the delete button at the White House.

Scooter Libby's attorney has requested access to basically all of Fitzgerald's evidence. Mind you, this is an obstruction of justice charge. Yet Libby wants access to essentially all the transcripts and evidence so he can "prove" that he really did just forget about certain conversations. Well, in denying one of Libby's requests, Fitzgerald, in an oh-so-subtle manner, drops a bombshell:

"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."

How does Fitzgerald know of the existence of emails which have been deleted? Speculation leads us to conclude that either someone told him about the emails, or someone has copies of them. Notice Fitzgerald refers to multiple emails in both the Vice-President's and President's office. Were the emails communications between the two offices? It's also important to note that Fitzgerald states that no evidence "pertinent to the charges against the defendant" have been destroyed. This is a beautiful move by Fitzgerald, because remember, the charges against Libby are obstruction of justice and perjury.

So how does this make the sweat glisten on Gonzales' brow? 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. Democrats at the time cried foul:

"To allow the White House counsel to review records before the prosecutors would see them is just about unheard of in the way cases are always prosecuted," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking on NBC's Today show. "And the possibility of mischief, or worse than mischief, is very, very large."

Administration officials said the White House counsel's office may need up to two weeks to organize documents that some 2,000 employees are required to submit by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Gonzales testified about the Plame leak in June 2004. I guarantee Fitzgerald asked him about the destruction of evidence. How can I guarantee that? Well, remember that Fitzgerald wrote to then Acting Attorney General Comey to clarify the scope of his investigation. Comey replied to Fitzgerald as follows (PDF):

At your request, I am writing to clarify that my December 30, 2003, delegation to you of "all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department's investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity" is plenary and includes the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses...

I've always wondered why Fitzgerald requested the clarification. The request took place in early 2004. Around the same time, Fitzgerald subpoenaed the records of Air Force One. It is possible that Fitzgerald has known about the existence of deleted communications early on. Did Gonzales' explanation of why he waited 12 hours hold up at the grand jury? Does Fitzgerald indeed have proof that evidence was destroyed? If so, does Fitzgerald have evidence that the Department of Justice tipped the Administration to destroy that evidence?

Whatever the answers, this latest bombshell proves that the CIA leak scandal is still simmering--and administration officials are still squirming.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Management said...

This morning, prompted by a letter from Sen. Russ Feingold, the Washington Post reports that Alberto Gonzales misled the Senate Judiciary Committee during his January 2005 confirmation hearing:

Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) charged yesterday that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales misled the Senate during his confirmation hearing a year ago when he appeared to try to avoid answering a question about whether the president could authorize warrantless wiretapping of U.S. citizens.

Think Progress reported this story on December 18. Gonzales said “it is not the policy or the agenda of this president to authorize actions that would be in contravention of our criminal statutes.” In fact, he personally approved Bush’s warrantless domestic spying program, in contravention of a criminal statute.

We have the full transcript of the Feingold/Gonzales exchange posted.

In addition to Gonzales, former NSA director Michael Hayden and President Bush also made false statements relating to warrantless domestic surveillance.

UPDATE: An important aspect to this story is that Gonzales’ testimony was under oath. From the transcript:

SEN. SPECTER: Judge Gonzales, would you now stand for the administration of the oath? Raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you will give before the Senate Judiciary Committee will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?


UPDATE II: Americablog has the photo.

11:42 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Another short extension expected for Patriot Act
Congress still seen deadlocked on law

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | February 1, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives is expected to vote as early as today to extend the USA Patriot Act until the middle of March, a sign that Congress remains deadlocked over whether the surveillance law threatens civil liberties, congressional aides said.

The Patriot Act, which is set to expire on Friday, has already been extended once. In December, Democrats and a handful of Republicans in the Senate blocked a bill that would have made the law permanent, arguing that it must include greater safeguards to ensure that the FBI does not abuse its enhanced powers to conduct secret searches and seize business records.

House Republicans, led by House Judiciary Committee chairman James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, have balked at the Senate's proposed changes. Since December, the two sides have remained in talks but neither has given ground. A deal to extend the existing law by six more weeks would provide more time for negotiations.

If the bill passes the House, the Senate would then consider it.

Shortly before word of Sensenbrenner's intention to pass another short-term extension emerged yesterday, a key Senate Democrat asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to explain whether President Bush believes he has the power to keep using the tools in the Patriot Act in Al Qaeda-related investigations, even if the law expires.

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent Gonzales a letter asking him to respond by Friday to questions raised in a Jan. 25 Globe article about the Patriot Act and the administration's legal defense of its domestic surveillance program.

''The Boston Globe [story] raised questions last week about whether the president can continue using the tools that Congress provided in the Patriot Act, regardless of whether Congress reauthorizes the act this year," Leahy wrote. ''Which, if any, of the expiring Patriot authorities would continue to be legal even in the absence of specific authorizing legislation? Please explain your response."

Bush has authorized the military to wiretap Americans' international phone calls and e-mail without obtaining warrants, as a 1978 law requires. Responding to criticism that the spying program may be illegal, the administration says Bush's wartime powers give him the authority to lawfully override the warrant requirement.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Ex-Aide Libby Wants Classified Materials

The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 31, 2006; 8:35 PM

WASHINGTON -- Lawyers for a former top White House aide want access to classified intelligence briefings to show that he had more pressing matters on his mind than lying about leaking the identity of a CIA operative to get even with her husband for criticizing President Bush.

In a 21-page filing in federal court Tuesday, lawyers for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby accused prosecutors of withholding evidence they say they need to mount a defense.

Specifically, Libby's lawyers are seeking copies of the highly secretive President's Daily Brief, a summary of intelligence on threats against the United States, given to Bush from May 6, 2003, to March 24, 2004.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last year on charges that he lied to the FBI and a federal grand jury about how he learned CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity and when he subsequently told reporters.

Plame's identity was published in July 2003 by columnist Robert Novak after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, accused the Bush administration of twisting intelligence about Iraq's efforts to buy uranium "yellowcake" in Niger. The year before, the CIA had sent Wilson to Africa to determine the accuracy of the uranium reports.

"These documents will establish that Mr. Libby was immersed throughout the relevant period in urgent and sensitive matters, some literally matters of life and death," his lawyers wrote.

"Based in part on the documents, Mr. Libby will show that, in the constant rush of more pressing matters, any errors he made in his FBI interviews or grand jury testimony, months after the conversations, were the result of confusion, mistake or faulty memory, rather than a willful intent to deceive," the lawyers argued.

The dates of the intelligence briefings are significant to Libby's case. May 6, 2003, marks the first time the media referred to Wilson's findings in Niger, and March 24, 2004, was Libby's last appearance before the grand jury.

Libby's lawyers also want a federal judge to force special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to provide copies of notes that Libby took during the same time period and any security assessment made by the CIA to determine whether any damage was done by the Plame disclosure.

"It is material to the preparation of the defense to ascertain whether any damage to national security in fact resulted from the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's employment status," Libby's lawyers said.

In a Jan. 9 letter to Libby's lawyers, Fitzgerald said he believes he is obligated to turn over only documents in the FBI's possession. Fitzgerald also said he did not have _ nor did he request _ many of the documents that Libby's lawyers want.

"As you are no doubt aware, the documents referred to as the Presidential Daily Briefs are extraordinarily sensitive documents which are usually highly classified," Fitzgerald wrote. "We have never requested copies of any PDBs."

Libby's lawyers said they believe Fitzgerald should obtain the documents from the CIA and the vice president's office and turn them over to the defense team. The defense lawyers said they reserve the right to seek records kept by other government agencies, including the State Department, Office of the President and the National Security Council.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Management said...

Filed by RAW STORY

RAW STORY has acquired a letter from CIA leak Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to Vice President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff, I. Lewis Libby, who was indicted for allegedly obstructing justice and other charges for his role in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

In the letter, Fitzgerald admits that he has been told some emails from the President and Vice President's offices have been deleted, though he cautions that "no pertinent evidence has been destroyed."

"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 achiving process on the White House computer system."

The New York Daily News' James Meek reported this morning that "CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald collected 10,000 pages of documents - including the most sensitive terrorism memos in the U.S. government - from Vice President Cheney's office, he said in court papers released yesterday.

Libby's lawyers are seeking classified material to aid their defense, which many legal analysts see as an attempt to force the prosecutor's hand in dropping the case or reducing certain charges in the interests of national security.

Meek added: "Fitzgerald, who is fighting Libby's request, said in a letter to Libby's lawyers that many e-mails from Cheney's office at the time of the Plame leak in 2003 have been deleted contrary to White House policy."

The relevant page of that letter follows in image form. To download Fitzgerald's entire letter in PDF form, click here.

11:47 PM  

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