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Monday, July 25, 2005

12 Hour Gap: White House Cover-up of Rove Scandal

Posted by Bob Brigham

During the last two media cycles, the press has begun devoting more attention to the sketchy 12 hour gap. There is the appropriate speculation that the Bush White House may have ramped up their cover-up efforts during the 12 hour gap. Speculation that there may have been a Midnight Massacre of evidence. Frank Rich says:

As White House counsel, [Alberto Gonzales] was the one first notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A., had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson’s wife. That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it must “preserve all materials” relevant to the investigation.

Think Progress relays:

On CBS’s Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer noted that this time gap would have “give[n] people time to shred documents and do any number of things.” Gonzales argued that he asked for and received permission from the Justice Department to wait until the next morning to order White House staff to preserve all documents regarding their contacts with journalists about Valerie Plame.

Given that the Bush White House is now stonewalling the AP when asked "whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else", I think it is safe to assume that the Bush White House took full advantage of a 12 hour window before they would officially be told to preserve the evidence.

So how much information could have been shredding in a Midnight Massacre? Well, it depends upon the shredding equipment. Swing State Project has compared four different shredders to estimate the volume of information that could have been destroyed during the 12 hour gap.

shredders-innodesk.jpg InnoDesk Paper Shredder

This light-weight, battery-powered personal shredder is a compact and even features a strap.

While this shredder is the "perfect size to shred receipts or other personal items at home or when traveling" – it does not offer a cross-cut so it probably lacks the security necessary to work in the White House (where everyone but the senior Bush Administration staff takes security very seriously).

shredders-ativa1800X.jpgAtiva X1800

This is a solid shredder with extra heavy-duty features that allow the Ativa X1800 to even shred CDs. For added security, it shreds paper into confetti-style bits with its cross-cut mechanism.

It can hold 18 sheets per pass and shred 7 feet per minute, making it suitable for minor cover-ups but it is probably not of the quality necessary for a Republican Administration.

shredders-fellowes480C.jpgFellows 480C

This is the type of high capacity business shredder you would expect to see in a place such as the White House. It shreds 24 sheets at a time and is powerful enough to shred staples and even paper clips.

For users engaging in a conspiracy to destroy evidence, it offers a "continuous-duty motor" which can shred 30 feet a minute. The specs on the Fellows480C say it can shred 10,000 pages per day, or at least 5,000 pages during the 12 hour gap.

shredders-GPC6060X.jpgGBC 606X

This is the type of shredder you expect a guy like Karl Rove to own. The GPC6060X boasts a 43-gallon collection bin, a 16" throat and "shreds up to 20,000 pages per day" on continuous duty.

A single GBC 6060X could have shredded 20 reams of paper during the 12 hour gap due to the 25' per minute shredding speed. For all-nighters, it features an "exclusive in-cabinet basket jog-foot pedal" which compacts shreds to allow for longer shredding time between bag changes. Again, a single GBC 6060X could have shredded 10,000 pages that night.

I think it is safe to assume that there is more than one shredder in the White House, which would multiple the volume accordingly. This looks bad, really bad. And the White House stonewall makes it look as bad as Nixon's 18 minute gap. But remember, this is "worse than Watergate"!

Posted at 05:10 PM in Plamegate | Technorati