- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 30, 2005

National Archives officials said they discovered a new batch of documents about Judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Monday, prompting accusations from Democrats that the Bush administration is concealing records on the eve of Judge Roberts’ confirmation hearings.

The 42 boxes of newly found documents must be reviewed before their release and might not be ready before hearings on Judge Roberts’ nomination to the Supreme Court begin next week, said Susan Cooper, a spokeswoman for the National Archives and Records Administration.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, yesterday accused the White House of intentional “secrecy,” “slow-walking” and “stonewalling.”

Asked whether the White House had anything to do with keeping the records concealed, Ms. Cooper repeatedly refused to answer directly.

“You can make that assumption,” she said. “I can only tell you the process.”



The issue of concealed records already was a major point of dispute among Senate Democrats.

“This discovery comes late in this process and after requests from Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee for information on Judge Roberts’s record have been delayed and denied,” said Mr. Leahy, who demanded an immediate release of the papers. “This administration has set an unsettling pattern of secrecy by slow-walking relevant documents and stonewalling a narrow request for key records.”

But the documents cannot be released until they are screened for personal privacy, national security and law-enforcement exemptions to public-records legislation. The records, which are housed at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., must then be reviewed by representatives of both the Reagan and Bush administrations.

To date, the library has released 51,285 pages of documents pertaining to Judge Roberts’ work as a lawyer in the Reagan administration. The new documents, which might duplicate some of the records already released, were filed under the code “CU AT 18,” instead of his name. Archive officials, who oversee the library, said the code had been overlooked during the “expedited processing” of the Roberts records.

“The National Archives is doing everything it can to make these documents available as soon as possible,” Ms. Cooper said.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the document discovery shows that the Archives’ efforts to produce documents have been “unprecedented.”

“Tens of thousands of documents have already been released — more than any Supreme Court nominee in history,” he said. “And with each new release of information, it’s growing increasingly difficult for the president’s opponents to complain with a straight face about the need for more information.”

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat and member of the committee, said the late release could lead to demands that the hearings — now scheduled for four days next week — be extended.

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