On Bernard Kerik, keep in mind the following. This isn't the first time the President appointed Kerik to a position of great importance. In May 2003 he sent him to Baghdad to run the Interior Ministry -- the Ministry in charge of maintaining domestic order and security in Iraq, so rather a big deal.
What did the White House find out about Kerik during his first background check? And did that have anything to do with his abrupt departure from Iraq roundabout September 1st, 2003, months earlier than he originally planned to stay?
In fact, the summer of 2003 wasn't even the first time there was a problem with Kerik and a background check.
We already know from Wednesday's piece by Elizabeth Bumiller in the Times that though he got limited CIA and FBI briefings in the aftermath of 9/11, he was also "offered a high security clearance by federal officials so he could receive classified intelligence about the city's security ... But he failed to return a questionnaire needed for the F.B.I. to conduct a background check, and he never received that clearance."
That's really a helluva thing to forget, isn't it? You're the head police officer in New York City on 9/11. And in the weeks and months after that, preventing another attack is priority numbers 1 through 100. And you don't get around to returning the form that will take care of the background check that will get you the highest level clearance possible? The access to the most detailed and most highly classified information?
Think about that. It's extraordinary.
When the Times asked him about on Tuesday, Kerik's spokesman said he didn't remember ever getting a questionaire.
Later, when he was sent out to Baghdad, says the Times, he never managed to fill out a key financial disclosure form.
On a lot of these special assignments abroad, after a certain point, if you haven't gotten your paperwork and your clearances taken care of, you have to come home -- suggesting a possible reason for Kerik's early departure.
So the White House already had experience with Kerik's resistance to any background checks. But that didn't seem to make him any less desirable as the president's choice to have him run domestic security in the United States.
Just how many forms did he lose or forget to fill out? And again, why the early trip home from Baghdad? Where the two things related? And where there forms he managed to lose in this nomination cycle?
Late Update: An article in Friday's Times retracts the claim that Kerik did not file the CPA financial disclosure form in 2003. In fact, says the Times, he did.