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:
Read their reaction on the flip...
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