You have to wonder whether, as the vote tallies rolled in on the evening of November 7th, shredders were unusually active all across the District and out towards Langley. That was my first thought as a read this in today's NYTimes:
[The] Senate Judiciary Committee [is] reviving dozens of demands for classified documents that until now have been rebuffed or ignored by the Justice Department and other agencies. “I expect real answers, or we’ll have testimony under oath until we get them,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, who will head the committee beginning in January, said in an interview this week.
Shredders? Does that suspicion seem a little extreme? How about other questions we've all had about the conduct of government during the past six years, the suspicions that turned out to be justified?
I was thinking about how far political leaders will go to protect themselves as I read about the death of Alexander Litvinenko, former Soviet spy. Litvinenko was investigating the murder of a Moscow journalist who had uncovered evidence of Putin's hand in the destruction of apartment buildings and their inhabitants in Moscow, a brutal act which was attributed to Chechen rebels. I think there's a good chance Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya, the woman whose death he was investigating, were killed on Putin's orders. The Financial Times has an interesting time-line of Litvinenko's activities up to the time of his murder.
The Department of Justice, under its current leadership, is fully capable of "disappearing" awkward documents. I think there are all kinds of things the Bush administration, so cocksure and so scathing about constitutional limitations, believed it could keep under wraps by extending controls over executive branch documents -- and that would include shredding, of course.
It's more than possible that the Senate Judiciary Committee will find itself hamstrung by AG Gonzales. It may also be unwilling to exert sufficient pressure. Sometimes politicians -- even the guys on our side -- will protect themselves and their cohort before they'll protect either the truth or you and me.
Prepare for frustration and disappointment. There are more Putins elected to leadership positions than we like to believe.