...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Thursday, January 22, 2004
      ( 1:42 PM )
Watergate Redux

This story is only barely starting to get legs. But I thought I would get in on the first wave. Already Kos, Atrios and Josh Marshall have put it front and center today. Evidently, Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee have been stealing computer files from Democrats for over a year.

From the spring of 2002 until at least April 2003,
members of the GOP committee staff exploited a
computer glitch that allowed them to access
restricted Democratic communications without a
password. Trolling through hundreds of memos,
they were able to read talking points and accounts
of private meetings discussing which judicial
nominees Democrats would fight -- and with
what tactics.

The office of Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William
Pickle has already launched an investigation
into how excerpts from 15 Democratic memos
showed up in the pages of the conservative-
leaning newspapers and were posted to a
website last November.

And guess who the stolen files were leaked to?

Democrats now claim their private memos formed
the basis for a February 2003 column by
conservative pundit Robert Novak that
revealed plans pushed by Senator Edward M.
Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, to
filibuster certain judicial nominees. Novak is
also at the center of an investigation into who
leaked the identity of a CIA agent whose
husband contradicted a Bush administration
claim about Iraqi nuclear programs.

Citing "internal Senate sources," Novak's
column described closed-door Democratic
meetings about how to handle nominees.

A quick check of the major news outlets tells me that no one is yet paying attention to this beyond the Globe. But it should get legs pretty soon, with the major blots repeating it and more coming out of this initial report. Of course the massive theft of computer files in the Senate can't be as important as Dean yelling at a pep talk to his supporters in Iowa.

In response to the Globe's investigation, Republicans are scrambling to come up with explanations for what has been going on since Jim Jeffords turned the tide of the Senate in 2001. The memos and papers that Republicans stole included inside strategies by Democrats on how they were going to try and block judicial appointments of judges they did not approve of. The Republicans used this material to publicly attack Democrats. The problem here is not that the Dems are doing this - Republicans do the same thing, but that Republicans knew this theft of internal documents was going on and instead of stopping it, leaked them to Novak.

I have nothing but disdain for Novak at this point, so there's not much more I have to say about his role in these recent political leaks. To call him a reporter or journalist is just flat out mislabeling.

Speaking of which, a group of former CIA officers is now calling for a Congressional look into the leaking of Valerie Plame's name.

In a letter to U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert
dated Jan. 20 and obtained by Reuters on
Wednesday, 10 former CIA analysts and
operatives called the disclosure of Plame's identity
a "shameful event in American history" that
had damaged national security.

Yeah, well... good luck on that one.

more on this at Maru, BlahBlahBlah, Suburban Guerilla, and of course the diagram of it all by Uggabugga.

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