More on Hackergate: One Staffer or Two?

A commentator[*] suggests that, contrary to my suggestion, Mr. Miranda is not a second staffer, but the first staffer in a new job. At first glance this seemed odd to me, since Sen. Hatch announced in late November that the staff member involved had been suspended, and the AP was reporting Sen. Frist's suspending Mr. Miranda as if it were new.

The AP article I linked to is silent on this question, but more research suggests that the “same staffer” theory turns out to be possible, albeit unlikely— although the it's-only-Miranda scenario has its own interesting aspects.

The New York Times suggests there were two staffers, i.e. that that Mr. Miranda had an accomplice:

Manuel C. Miranda, a former Republican Judiciary Committee staff member, whose name appeared as a recipient of one of the Democratic e-mail messages and who has been questioned by Mr. Pickle's investigators, said in an interview Thursday that he knew how the documents were obtained by Republicans. He said that a junior member on the staff of Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, had discovered a flaw in the computer system that allowed him to read some of the Democratic computer traffic.

Mr. Miranda, who is now a senior staff aide to Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee, the Republican leader, said that the junior aide was reading the Democratic documents from about May 2002 until the early fall of 2002. The aide, who has since left the Senate, passed some of those memorandums to Mr. Miranda and other Hatch staff members, Mr. Miranda said.

“Those documents that I did read were, in my view, not obtained in any way that was improper, unlawful or unethical,” he said. He described them as “inadvertent disclosures that came to me as a result of some negligence on the part of the Democrats' technology staff.” His only obligation, he said, was to see that the Democrats were told that the computer system had a flaw that allowed Republican aides to read some of their memorandums.

“I knew our people had told their people about it,” Mr. Miranda said. “Once I knew that, I had no further obligation.”

Suppose, however, there was just Mr. Miranda. Then even more interesting questions arise:

  • Was he really suspended in November at all?
  • If so, when did it end and why?
  • And why is he re-suspended now?

Whether there's one staffer or more, it would also be interesting to know:

  • Whether Senator Frist hired Mr. Miranda knowing about the Hackergate incident?
  • If so, was it as a reward?
  • And, whether or not he knew then, does Senator Frist endorse Mr. Miranda's vision of Senate collegiality and comity as set out in the NYT article above?

[*] I deleted the comment which raised this issue because it violated rules one and two of my comments policy—fortunately something I only rarely need to do. Perhaps because there are so few comments….

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