Monthly Archives: January 2004


To Eugene Volokh for this.

To Brad DeLong for this.

Posted in Readings | 1 Comment

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….

Posted in Law: Criminal Law, Politics: US | Leave a comment

What So-Called Liberal Media?

Spotted at Brian Leiter's blog.

Posted in Politics: US | 2 Comments

Hutton Live

The Guardian is scribing the live delivery of the Hutton report. So far it looks bad for the BBC and good for Tony Blair.

Update: It's over. Full summary is now here, with the headline “BBC targeted as Hutton clears Blair”.

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Second Staffer Fingered In Senate Hackergate Probe

Yahoo! News – Memo-Leak Probe Expands to Frist's Office:

An aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been put on leave during an investigation into how Republicans gained access to Democratic memos concerning opposition to President Bush (news – web sites)'s judicial nominees.

Manuel Miranda, who works for the Tennessee Republican on judicial nominations, is on leave pending the outcome of the inquiry by the Senate sergeant-at-arms, Frist spokesman Nick Smith said Tuesday. In the matter under investigation, Democratic memos stored on a computer server shared by Judiciary Committee (news – web sites) members ended up in GOP hands.

Miranda told The Knoxville News-Sentinel that investigators were looking at work he performed for the Judiciary Committee before he joined Frist's office. “There was no stealing,” he said. “No systematic surveillance. I never forwarded these memos — period.”

I said previously that this wasn't a one-person show, that it went beyond the single staffer Hatch already suspended.

No way that goodies like this didn't get shared around.

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Sun Claims Hutton Report Will Clear Blair

The Hutton Report is due out in a few hours. Meanwhile, the Sun Newspaper — a British tabloid best known for running daily pix of half-naked women to pump up circulation — reports that it has had advance access to the Hutton Report and that the report 'clears' Blair.

Hutton 'clears Blair': The Sun newspaper has tonight claimed to have a leak of the Hutton report. The paper says Tony Blair has been cleared of wrongdoing but that the BBC and the governors have been criticised for not investigating the veracity of the Andrew Gilligan report that sparked the row between the corporation and the government.

But the slant the Sun has taken is already being treated with some scepticism – Lord Hutton demanded that everyone who received an early copy of his report sign an undertaking not to disclose its contents and there is suspicion that the tabloid may have got its leak from a source sympathetic to the government.

The Sun has supported the Labour party throughout the Kelly affair and it appears that it has not the seen the full report, but has only had part of the conclusions read to it.

The paper's front page story claims the prime minister will not be blamed for the 'naming strategy' that led to the public identification of Dr Kelly as the 'mole' who had an unauthorised meeting with Gilligan.

According to the Sun, the BBC has also been criticised for not making more rigorous checks to establish the truth of Gilligan's central claim that the government had knowingly 'sexed up' the Iraq dossier that made the case for war.

Although once Margret Thatcher's biggest cheerleader, Ruport Murdoch's newspaper has been a big supporter of Blair, especially as regards Iraq.

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