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Why are Republicans now calling for the investigation of a three year-old incident involving a Clinton-era official that's already been settled? As a senior Democrat points out, their call came just one day after that official, Sandy Berger, criticized the Bush administration's North Korea policy on Fox News.

In 2003, Sandy Berger, the former National Security Advisor to President Clinton, took classified documents from the National Archives*. That's illegal. The Justice Department investigated the matter, and prosecuted Berger on a misdemeanor charge. In April 2005, Berger pleaded guilty to one charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material.

Yesterday -- eighteen months after that case ended -- 10 House Republicans suddenly called for a House investigation of the same incident.

In an attempt to explain the timing, the spokesman for Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), one of the Republicans calling for the (re-)investigation, said that the House had held off until the Justice Department's probe concluded. Neither Hunter or the other GOPers have criticized the Justice Department's investigation, nor a parallel probe conducted by the National Archives' inspector general.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, joined the movement yesterday, sending a letter to the inspector general of the National Archives asking for a copy of his report on the matter. His spokesman described the move as a preliminary step to investigation.

Davis' ranking member on the panel, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), protested the move. "The Berger incident is not new," Waxman wrote to Davis, "and there is no conceivable standard under which it would be considered a vitally important national security matter." He added with a note of skepticism that Berger had "appeared on Fox television and criticized the Bush Administration for its negligent approach to North Korea" just the day before the calls for investigation came.

The full letter below the jump....

Update: Berger took documents from the National Archives, not the National Security Archives, as this post originally stated.

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Old-fashioned journalists have a term for bizarre, interesting and/or disturbing little articles -- "Hey Mabel" stories, they call them. And the New York Sun's Josh Gerstein had a doozy of a "Hey Mabel" in yesterday's paper.

In a new court filing on behalf of alleged dirty bomber Jose Padilla, his lawyers allege that government interrogators forced him to take LSD, Gerstein reported.

"Additionally, Padilla was given drugs against his will, believed to be some form of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) or phencyclidine (PCP), to act as a sort of truth serum during his interrogations," he quotes the filing.

Now, There are some important details that aren't explained: Padilla's lawyers don't say what effects the prisoner reported to make them conclude it was LSD or PCP, nor do they report how many times such a drug or drugs were administered. And as any self-respecting child of the D.A.R.E era knows, LSD and PCP typically produce wildly different behavior (neither of which is particularly helpful if you're trying to get information out of someone).

Still -- if their charge is accurate, it's disturbing and bizarre. Of course, the U.S. government pioneered research into LSD in particular in the 1950s and 60s. CIA officers even tested the drug by surruptitiously dosing each other, leading at least one acid-tripping spook to run in a paranoid frenzy through Washington D.C. and over a bridge into Virginia, where his co-workers later found him cowering under a fountain.

But through experiences like this, the government concluded the drug was worthless as an interrogation tool, a means to "flip" Communist agents, or anything else their Cold War minds had feverishly dreamed possible. Is it possible that they're experimenting with mind drugs again? That sounds completely outlandish. But when you look at history, and then look at the Padilla filing, it's hard to rule out.

I've called three members of Padilla's legal team multiple times in an attempt to get more details, but have gotten nowhere. Can this be real?

My phone rang yesterday evening, and it was everybody's favorite spiritual adviser to the scum of the earth, Mr. K.A. Paul!

"My people told me that I shouldn't talk to you. I was told after they did research on you you're a small reporter and you did negative things," said Paul, who claims to have spent hours talking with some of the greatest despots of the last two decades. "I said, 'I don't care, I'm going to call him.'"

"I made a commitment to you," said Paul, recalling our earlier conversation. "You want to write bad about me, go ahead. But there is a Judgment Day," he observed, with a note of warning in his voice. "I have to keep my word."

In our conversation, Paul explained that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) isn't the first Republican to give him a nice chunk of face-time. He said that when they were in power, he had "extensive," "3-hour" sit-downs with GOP heavyweights Tom DeLay, Dick Armey and Newt Gingrich. He also had a two-and-a-half hour meeting with Bob and Elizabeth Dole, he said. Others:

George W. Bush: "I met him on several occasions," Paul told me, including in Des Moines, Iowa, and at Bush's church in Austin, Tex. "I prayed with him," he said. "I appreciated it when in 2000 president Bush got on his knees and prayed with me," recalled Paul. "What I don't appreciate is his 2004 speech, 'I have political capital, and I'm going to spend it.'. . . . If you are humble, sincere and honest, God will bless you," Paul cautioned. "If not, it doesn't matter who you are, you will be defeated."

Condolleezza Rice: Rice "called me on July 24, 2003. . . I asked, 'President Bush, why is he not calling me?' They said, 'No, he's in the room.'" (More details about the conversation, he said, were available in his new book.)

Bill O'Reilly: "I've been on his show a dozen times since 1999," said Paul, who called O'Reilly "my good friend." "[He] says he's fair and balanced, but he's not!"

As for Dennis Hastert, he said he met him first "in a casual way" when he was speaking at "a prayer breakfast dinner" in Washington, D.C. in 1997. He also met him at a Promise Keepers rally in 1997 in Washington, D.C.

Paul said that in the past day he'd received calls from Larry King Live, the CBS Morning News and dozens of other outlets. "I need to spend more time with the media!" he exclaimed, as if chastising himself for forgetting to do so. He didn't mention that shortly after his Tuesday meeting with Hastert, his assistant had sent a barrage of emails to media outlets featuring the original AP story of Paul's visit to Hastert, along with Paul's cell phone number.

Majority Leader Asked to Testify on Foley "According to sources, House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) received an invitation Wednesday to appear before the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, but a specific date was not disclosed.

"A spokesman for Boehner reiterated that he will cooperate fully with the investigation.

"Additionally, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.) will appear before the ethics committee next week. Adam Terry, a spokesman for Alexander, said he will 'voluntarily' offer testimony Wednesday." (Roll Call) (sub. req.)

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Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) "collected a $1.1 million windfall on a Las Vegas land sale even though he hadn't personally owned the property for three years," the AP reports.

Except that's wrong. Reid made a $700,000 profit on the sale, not $1.1 million. Also, the story, by the AP’s John Solomon, makes it sound as if Reid got money for land he didn't own. But that's not the case.

It’s not the first time that Solomon has published a misleading story about Reid. This is the third such story by Solomon over the past six months. Each time, Solomon has hit Reid for taking actions which might create the appearance of ethical impropriety. But because Solomon writes for the most powerful news organization in the land, these very gray-shaded stories pack a wallop. It doesn’t help that on numerous occasions, he has missed or distorted key details – missteps that help blow up his stories.

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I spoke -- briefly -- with a man who says he is the Rev. K.A. Paul, "spiritual adviser to the scum of the Earth," who had a remarkable 40-minute prayer-and-discussion meeting yesterday with House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL).

I reached the man by calling a cellular telephone number provided by an anonymous tipster.

"He never said that," Paul told me when I asked his reaction to the claim, apparently from Hastert's office, that the embattled GOP leader had been "duped" into meeting with Paul.

I pointed out that it had been reported this morning in the Chicago Sun-Times. "I don't dupe anybody," he said. "That's ridiculous." Hastert was "gracious," Paul said. "He welcomed me, he hosted me."

"That's why I think a lot of people don't talk to the media," he opined.

Paul said he'd met Hastert before, but not "in an extended way," like the meeting yesterday. But he's met with former House majority leader Tom DeLay "many times," including dinner with The Hammer at his Texas home in early 2001, Paul told me.

Paul, whose ministry includes counseling world leaders in trouble -- particularly despots, murderers and troublemakers -- begged off the phone, but promised to call back later for a longer chat.

"Never" is a dangerous word for a Republican congressman when talking about Jack Abramoff.

Just ask Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA), whose tight race may have gotten tighter over claims he'd "never" been worked by the disgraced superlobbyist.

"He never once lobbied me on anything," Pombo had said of Abramoff, practically inviting journalists to prove him wrong. "He never asked me to sign a letter, vote for or against a bill, introduce a bill, never once stepped foot in my office."

Sure enough, the AP combed through stacks of Abramoff's billing records for his client, the Northern Mariana Islands, and what did they discover: "more than two dozen. . . occasions from 1996 through 2001" where Abramoff's associates contacted Pombo's staff. And two direct contacts between Abramoff and Pombo, according to the service's report yesterday.

Just combing through our stack here, I can see an Abramoff associate billing the Marianas for... asking Pombo to sign a letter:

Pombo's line, of course, is that Abramoff is a liar and a cheat. And he certainly wouldn't be the first lawyer in history to get artistic with his billing. But it just goes to show -- "never" is a dangerous word, especially for someone like Pombo, who was so close to Tom DeLay, Abramoff's chief ally in Congress.

Investigative mag Mother Jones scores a lengthy chat with questionable evangelist and Dennis Hastert confidante K.A. Paul, winning new details of his meeting yesterday with the embattled speaker of the House.

It turns out Paul's meeting was for 7 a.m., but he showed up a half-hour late, says MoJo:

The two men withdrew into a private room where, Paul says, he launched into a sermon about what Hastert should do. Paul told Mother Jones that he cited politicians whose reputations suffered when they resisted stepping down: Donald Rumsfeld, Tom DeLay, Bill Clinton. “I said ‘If you don’t do that, the Republicans will lose control of the Congress, you will no longer be Speaker in 30 days, and at the same time they will all blame you because of Foley scandal. You want that for you? You want that to be your life legacy after accomplish so many good things?’ So that’s what convinced him.”


“God gave me this position that I don’t deserve,” Paul says Hastert told him. “For the good of the people, I will do it.”

The Chicago Sun-Times today reported Hastert was "duped" into meeting with Paul. Hastert's office maintains he is not stepping down.

Bonus: Paul tells MoJo he knew al-Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi “when he was nobody.” Dubbed the "spiritual adviser to the scum of the Earth," Paul says he has counseled such men as Saddam Hussein, Muammar al-Khaddafi, Slobodan Milosevic, Liberia's Charles Taylor, and former House majority leader Tom DeLay.

Rep. Stephanie Herseth (D-SD) recently became the latest figure to call on House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to step down over his mishandling of the Foley page scandal. That gave us a reason to update our list of folks demanding Hastert's ouster.

The list has grown, thanks to Herseth, editorials in the Los Angeles Times and the New Hampshire Union Leader, and a host of others. Check it out. If we missed a call, let us know!

Disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) paid a visit to the House page dormitory in 2000, according to ABC News. A drunken visit to the dorm by Foley in 2002 or 2003 had been reported last week. Writes ABC's Rhonda Schwartz:

A staff supervisor at the dorm for congressional pages intervened when former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) tried to pay the teens a nighttime visit in the summer of 2000, ABC News has learned.

The pages were having an informal "mixer" party in their dorm at the Tip O'Neil building behind the Capitol, according to a former page who was 17 at the time.

"It was a beautiful summer evening, and I recall Mr. Foley arriving in his blue Series 3 BMW convertible about 9:30 at night," the former page said. "Several of us saw him and went outside to chat."


A supervisor saw the kids going towards Foley's car and "shooed" them back inside, Schwartz reports.

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