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Gapology

Tapedeck Those of us of a certain age may still tingle at the memory of the 18 1/2 minute gap -- supposedly caused by secretary Rose Mary Wood's carelessness -- in a crucial White House tape.  For many, it was the discovery of this erasure that irreversibly damaged Richard Nixon's credibility and led inevitably to his resignation over the Watergate cover-up.   

Perhaps "18" is a significant number in Presidential scandals because today, amid the sound and flurry of thousands of emails concerning the US Attorneys' scandal, a gap of 18 days has been noted in the stream.  And a crucial 18 days too, immediately before the time the attorneys were fired.  What happened?  Tony Snow and the White House denied all responsibility:

Q    Okay.  You keep saying the Justice Department, the response -- that these emails, the 3,000 pages is unprecedented, is very responsive.  Why, then, is there this gap from mid-November to about December 4th, right before the actual firings?  Why is there a gap in the emails?

MR. SNOW:  I don't know.  Why don't you ask them?

Q    Well, you're the White House, the Justice Department serves under --

MR. SNOW:  I know, but I'm not going to be the fact witness on Justice.

Q    But you're the one representing that this has been very responsive. Now when there's a gap you say go to them.

MR. SNOW:  Yes, and I've been led to believe that there's a good response for it, but I'm going to let you ask them because they're going to have the answer ...

Q    Tony, just for the record, this gap between mid-November and early December, is there a gap because there are no emails pertaining to this situation between then, or are there more emails to come out?

MR. SNOW:  That I don't know.  Like I said, that's why I think you need to go back and ask the Department of Justice.  They've done the document production; we have not been in charge of it.  I would refer questions to them ...

Q    And then there's a gap in emails. Was there any -- perhaps any emails about the President in there?  And did the President have to sign off on this?  Because the question was raised --

MR. SNOW:  The President has no recollection of this ever being raised with him."

I suspect this gap will prove of some importance.  I'll keep watch.

Update:

The New York Times quotes the Justice Department spokesman:

"Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said, “The department has provided or made available to Congress all the documents responsive to Congress’s requests over the time period in question.” He added, “To the extent there was a lull in communications concerning the U.S. attorney issues, it reflects the fact that we have found no responsive documents from that time period, which included the Thanksgiving holiday.”

March 21, 2007 in America Inc, Bush Administration, Current Affairs, History, Justice System, US Justice System | Permalink

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