Monday, March 08, 2004

Pilfergate Joshua Marshall picks up the Judiciary Committee memo story this morning. In fact, he seems to have gotten a hold of the Pickle report itself.

The key nugget:

If you look at pages 21-22 of the report...you see that Jason Lundell--the little gizmocrat who first discovered he could get access to the memos--was also responsible for "speaking with the Department of Justice Legislative Affairs and Legal Policy representatives."

So he worked in a liaison capacity with the people who run the judicial appointments at Justice.

It turns out there's a footnote to that sentence I just quoted.

And when you go to the bottom of the page you see that footnote reads: "As of the time this report is being completed, the Department of Justice still has under consideration investigators' request to interview the employee who Mr. Lundell reports having contacts with."

Now, they spent more than a couple days working on this report. So I think that's gentle and generous way of saying that the Justice Department declined to make this person available for an interview.

Then if you hop down to pages 48-49, you'll see that in his final interview with investigators, Manuel Miranda--the guy at the center of all this--for the first time mentioned that a backup disk of the documents had just come into his possession and that he got it from "a friend of his from outside the Senate" who had made the backup for him. This friend had just recently reminded him that the backup existed.

Now, here's the key.

The report says Miranda "declined to give investigators the name of the friend stating that he did not want to prolong the investigation. He also refused to give investigators the names of his White House legislative contacts for the same reason."

I bet Martha Stewart wishes she'd known about this right of non-prolongation, don't you?

Clearly, the entire situation needs to be explored by law enforcement officials with subpoena power. But if the Justice Dept. wasn't ready to cooperate with Pickle's investigation, how can it be trusted to helm an independent inquiry?

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.