Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 9, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

MEMOGATE ROUNDUP....Last night I finished reading the Pickle report about those Republican staffers who pilfered Democratic memos from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and it turns out there's not much more there. Here are a few final comments:

  • Jason Lundell was the guy who actually pilfered the memos, but Manuel Miranda was the ringleader of the affair. Miranda knew that Lundell had already been told not to use Democratic material, but:

    Mr. Miranda's response, according to Mr. Lundell, was that everyone knew about the open access and that he did not have to follow the directions given to him by [his boss]. Furthermore, Mr. Lundell recalled that Mr. Miranda told him that Senator Hatch wanted the staff to use any means necessary to support President Bush's nominees.

    What a sweetheart. He seems to have mistaken Orrin Hatch's version of "any means necessary" with Tony Soprano's.

  • In fact, no one knew about the open access and there was no negligence on the part of the Democrats. They assumed their files were safe and they had every reason to think so. It was sloppiness on the part of the system administrator that left the files open. (And contrary to Miranda's obviously self-serving statement, nobody ever warned the sysadmin of this problem.)

  • Miranda's behavior was not only deceitful and unethical, but it was also potentially damaging to his own party. In a statement, he said, "Although I came to learn how to access two or three of those files easily enough, I did so few times and initially to ascertain that Democrats could access Republican files as well."

    In other words, he knew perfectly well that it was possible that Democrats were pilfering Republican files but didn't tell anyone about it. Would you want someone working for you who knew about a huge security hole in your own operation but didn't tell you about it?

And finally, although Miranda claims that everything he was doing was above board and morally benign, he seems to have harbored a few internal doubts about this. For your amusement, here's an email he sent to his mole:

From: Miranda, Manuel (Frist)
Sent: Thursday, March 06, 2003 10:48 AM
To: Lundell, Jason (Judiciary)
Subject: Am Ex
Importance: High

Jason,

Can I ask you to undertake a discreet mission. Sean Rushton should get a complete relpcate of the Ame Ex binder. He needs to get up to speed with outr best info as he build relationship with the press.

Let me know how soon....assuming you accept, Mr. Phelps.

The Pickle report helpfully reminds us that "The reference to 'Mr. Phelps' refers to the secret agent who received his instructions via audioptape in the Mission Impossible TV series."

Here is Lundell's response: "Of course I would be happy to assist in this covert action. The question is: exactly how much should I provide? You know, we have loads on information."

Bottom line: Manual Miranda may have been kicked out of the Senate, but he should have no trouble landing a job at the American Enterprise Institute. He'll fit right in.

Kevin Drum 11:08 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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