Two weeks ago I


Two weeks ago, I shared with you the<$Ad$> possibility that the long-brewing controversy over those pilfered Democratic Judiciary Committee staff memos could lead to an investigation of the White House Counsel’s office. (The earlier post covers all the details of how this could come to pass.)

Now, last week four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Durbin, Leahy, Kennedy and Schumer) wrote White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales with a series of detailed and pointed questions all of which focused on whether the White House had any knowledge of the pilfering or involvement in it and whether they had made use of those pilfered memos in any way.

One of the questions dealt with whether any outside groups had been the conduits for passing pilfered files to the Counsel’s office …

Did you or anyone who has served in your office or at the White House receive from C. Boyden Gray, Sean Rushton, Kay Daly, the Committee for Justice, the Coalition for a Fair Judiciary or any other intermediary any of the computer files of Democratic Senators or their staffs or information derived from those files?

Now, last week I called the Committee for Justice and asked Executive Director Sean Rushton whether he or anyone else at the Committee had known about the accessing of the Democratic staff memos prior to last November when the first published reports surfaced. He answered with a flat “no”.

I also asked whether any of the memos had come into the Committee’s possession prior to last November. And he again answered with a flat “no”.

But yesterday Gonzales responded to the Democratic Senators’ letter and he was far more equivocal when he spoke for the Counsel’s Office and the White House staff. If it’s not a classic example of a non-denial denial, it’s definitely the well-chosen phrasing of someone who’s far from ready to deny that his office was involved in the theft of these files.

The Boston Globe this morning reported Gonzales’ response thusly …

Gonzales, replying yesterday in a letter to Leahy, said he was aware of no “credible allegation” of White House involvement in the incident, so no investigation has been made. He said he “respectfully, but categorically, reject the statement in your letter” that administration actions contributed to the atmosphere around the files controversy.

But I think that doesn’t do justice to the full measure of equivocation and obfuscation.

Here are the two paragraphs from Gonzales’ letter in which he responds to the Senators’ detailed questions about possible White House involvement …

As I explained, I am not aware of any credible allegation of White House involvement in this matter. Consequently, there has been no White House investigation or effort to determine whether anyone at the White House was aware of or involved in these activities.

As I also advised you, I have no personal knowledge that any such computer files or the documents they may have contained were provided to our office or to others at the White House. So far as I know, moreover, neither my staff nor others at the White House were aware of activity by the Judiciary Committee staff or other Senate employees such as they alleged in public reports on this matter.

I have no personal knowledge … so far as i know … rather less than unequivocal, isn’t it?

Maybe this gets added to the list of investigations hanging over the White House’s collective head.