Sunday, July 24, 2005

"Fire Up The Shredder"

White House Had 12 Hour Advance Warning of Plame Investigation

Chief Law Enforcement Officer of US
Gave Them A Free Pass

In the Sunday NY Times, Frank Rich pointed out the 12 hour gap that occurred between the decision by the Justice Department to initiate an investigation of the outing of CIA operative, Valerie Wilson (Plame) and the time when the White House was formally informed of that decision. However, as soon as the decision was made at the Justice Department, White House chief counsel Alberto "Torture Is OK" Gonzales was informed by Justice officials. Gonzales told Justice that he would inform the White House staff the next morning of the investigation and their requirement to preserve any files or documents that might pertain to the investigation.

As White House counsel, he was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation

It turns out that Gonzales didn't wait to inform at least on member of the White House staff immediately upon being informed that an investigation was underway. Mr. Gonzales apparently didn't even put down the phone after his call from Justice, instead he called White House chief of staff, Andrew Card and let him know what was coming.

As the Washington Post is reporting in its Monday early edition,

Gonzales said yesterday that he spoke with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. immediately after learning that the Justice Department had launched a criminal investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. But Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, waited 12 hours before officially notifying the rest of the staff of the inquiry.

So, Gonzales told the Justice Department that he would wait 12 hours to formally notify the White House staff of the investigation and then "immediately" calls the White House chief of staff to inform him of the investigation.

Wait, there is more. The AP is reporting that the White House refuses to comment as to who Mr. Card may have informed of the upcoming Justice Department investigation in the 12 hours preceding the formal notification.

The White House has not responded to questions about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation.

A spokeswoman said the White House won't comment on the pending investigation.

Clearly during that 12 hour period, any documents or records pertaining to the upcoming investigation could have been shredded or otherwise destroyed without technically violating any laws. Sort of a free pass to get rid of any incriminating evidence.