- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

Republicans have “perhaps thousands” of internal Democratic judiciary memos like the 14 that caused a stir on Capitol Hill last fall, says a Republican staffer who resigned after an investigation into how the documents were obtained.

“Only a small amount of [documents downloaded from Democratic computer servers] have been made public,” said Manuel Miranda, former judicial-nominations counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee. “The ones made public are the least indicting of the ones.”

Mr. Miranda resigned from his position last week after a two-month investigation by the Senate sergeant-at-arms into how the documents were obtained by Republican staffers and, ultimately, excerpted in The Washington Times and Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Miranda wrote a farewell statement explaining his actions. By resigning, he said he hopes the focus will shift from the manner in which the documents were obtained to their content.

The 14 memos made public, written by staffers for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, reveal a coziness between many Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and liberal special-interest groups.

Several Democratic Judiciary Committee staffers declined to comment on the matter until a report on the investigation by the sergeant-at-arms is released in coming weeks.

The memo generating much of the consternation was written to Mr. Kennedy urging him — at the behest of an attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — to stall a nominee to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until that panel had ruled on a landmark affirmative-action case.

Although the Democratic staffers noted the impropriety of such calculations, they recommended the judge’s nomination be stalled anyway. Indeed, Tennessee Judge Julia S. Gibbons wasn’t confirmed until after the court ruled 5-4 to uphold the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative-action program.

Ethics complaints have been filed against Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Durbin and Elaine Jones, the attorney for the NAACP. Ms. Jones was a named party in the affirmative-action case when she lobbied Mr. Kennedy’s office for intervention.

In his farewell letter, Mr. Miranda described publicly for the first time how he first came to see the Democratic memos as a staffer for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, who was his boss prior to Mr. Frist.

“[A] young colleague brought to my attention that he could access documents from the Judiciary shared-server network on our desktops through an icon called “My Network Places,” he wrote. “No unauthorized hacking was involved.”

The other staffer in question was placed on administrative leave at the start of the investigation and has since followed through on previous plans to leave.

The documents Mr. Miranda said he has seen “recorded collusive, partisan considerations in the confirmation process and much worse,” he said.

Mr. Miranda spoke highly of Mr. Frist and Mr. Hatch, though he takes exception with Mr. Hatch’s view that he should not have viewed the Democratic files.


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