Time: Sun Oct 19 19:18:48 1997
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Date: Sun, 19 Oct 1997 18:53:16 -0700
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From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]

>               The Best Kept Secret in Washington?
>                    by Carl of Oyster Bay
>    For nearly a  year  now,  Republican  critics  of  the  White
>House's  1996  illegal fundraising blitzkrieg have been demanding
>that Attorney General Janet Reno appoint an independent  counsel.
>For  almost  as  long  even the prestige liberal press has agreed
>with the print media triumvirate  of  The  New  York  Times,  The
>Washington   Post  and  The  Los  Angeles  Times  beseeching  the
>beleaguered attorney general to do what has to be done.
>    Perhaps criticism of Reno reached the boiling point two weeks
>ago  when Speaker Newt Gingrich publicly derided her as "a fool".
>To add insult to injury, shortly thereafter ABC's  Sam  Donaldson
>echoed Gingrich's sentiment, also calling Reno a fool right there
>on This Week (without David Brinkley).
>    What could explain why Reno has  limited  the  scope  of  the
>Justice  Department's  probe?   Why  has  she  failed  to let her
>investigators interview key witnesses?   Why  does  reporter  Bob
>Woodward,   who   operates   without   subpoena  power,  seem  to
>singlehandedly dig  up  more  damaging  information  than  Reno's
>entire Justice Department task force?
>    In fact, we may have learned the answer to that question from
>an  an  almost  unnoticed report which moved on the UPI wire late
>Thursday morning - the  day  after  Reno  tried  to  explain  her
>inexplicable   behavior   before  Henry  Hyde's  House  Judiciary
>Committee.  The story, headlined "'CONFIDENTIAL' COUNSELS  BEHIND
>THE  SCENES",  reported  that  Reno, while testifying , explained
>that she had no compunction about seeking an independent  counsel
>to  investigate  Democratic fund-raising if the evidence warrants
>it, pointing out that she has sought "at least two"  confidential
>independent  counsels.  That  would  be  in  addition to the four
>publicly known independent counsels Reno has thus  far  appointed
>to  investigate  the  Clintons, Mike Espy, Henry Cisneros and the
>late Ron  Brown.   According  to  UPI,  "the  activities  of  the
>'confidential'  counsels  are known only to a small circle within
>the Justice Department and are believed  to  deal  with  national
>security  issues."   Moreover, "U.S. officials" had confirmed the
>"confidential counsels" story to UPI.
>    On Friday UPI ran a clarification, stating that  the  Justice
>Department  has  never  confirmed the existence of "confidential"
>independent  counsel  investigations,  adding:  "In   fact,   the
>existence  of such investigations has never been confirmed by any
>government agency, though  General  Accounting  Office  financial
>accounts  may  indicate  such activity."  A UPI reporter familiar
>with both reports,  when  contacted  by  The  Washington  Weekly,
>indicated that the central claim of the first story was accurate.
>    Secret independent counsels?  Dealing with national  security
>issues?   Let's  recall  that  the independent counsel statute is
>never invoked  unless  there's  credible  evidence  that  covered
>persons  may have committed a crime.  The persons covered are the
>president, the vice president and/or the president's cabinet.
>    Reno would have made huge headlines if she  had  gone  before
>Hyde's  committee  and  announced  she  was  ready  to  take  the
>independent counsel plunge.  But instead Reno let slip  the  fact
>that  she'd  already  done  so,  albeit  in  secret  -  yet  this
>thermonuclear bombshell news seems to have completely escaped the
>notice  of  the  rest of the press.  On Friday, no major New York
>newspaper even alluded to the UPI scoop.
>    When asked to confirm or deny the existence of "confidential"
>independent   counsels  appointed  by  Reno,  Justice  Department
>spokesman Bert Brandenberg told The Washington Weekly, "We're not
>saying  whether there are or not," but elaborated that, "The only
>thing I have pointed out to reporters  for  months  is  that  the
>independent  counsel statute says that you normally can't comment
>on the existence of one  unless  you  have  permission  from  the
>court.   And that has certainly happened on many occasions in the
>last four and a half years.  The  attorney  general's  staff  has
>asked  publicly for no fewer than four.  And on no fewer than two
>occasions asked that the jurisdiction of one of them be added to.
>On  the  other hand, if for some reason we either did not seek to
>make one public or were not given permission to even if we sought
>it,  it would not become public.  And that has always been what I
>call a possibility that I certainly would  not  confirm.   That's
>    When asked what Janet Reno  meant  when  she  told  the  Hyde
>Committee  that  she'd  already sought "at least two" independent
>counsels  to  investigate  Democratic  fund-raising,  Brandenberg
>replied, "I can't go any farther than what I've just described".
>    Brandenberg  seemed  to  take  great  pains  to  outline  the
>scenario  by  which  "confidential"  counsels could be appointed,
>specifically noting that in such a case  the  Justice  Department
>"certainly  would  not confirm."  At no time during the interview
>did Brandenberg even hint at a denial, which begs the question  -
>why  not?    Unless  it's true; the Clinton administration is now
>under investigation by an  undisclosed  independent  counsel  (or
>counsels) for reasons known only to Janet Reno and a few others.
>    This could explain why Reno's own Justice probe has seemed so
>lethargic;  why  big fish witnesses go ungrilled and key evidence
>goes unnoticed.   Perhaps,  just  perhaps,  Reno  no  longer  has
>jurisdiction  over  the  higher-ups,  the  "covered persons" that
>would be the subject of any  independent  counsel  investigation,
>confidential  or  otherwise.   This  just might be the reason why
>Reno's agents seem to be spinning their  wheels  while  bombshell
>after bombshell explodes on the front pages.
>    Granted, this interpretation cuts Madame Attorney General  an
>awful   lot   of   slack.   But  it  really  comes  down  to  two
>alternatives.   Either  she's  the  stupidest,   most   shameless
>incompetent  ever to toss her integrity over the side in the name
>of misplaced loyalty - or her whole act is a cover for  something
>    Still, even if Reno is indeed the  noble  investigator  here,
>keeping her cards close to the vest, willing to take the abuse to
>draw fire away from the real investigation - that doesn't exactly
>let  her  off  the hook.  The idea of secret independent counsels
>investigating who knows who for who knows  what  -  and  for  who
>knows  how  long  -  is  a  tad  chilling.   For instance, we the
>taxpayers are paying for this alleged investigation -  and  we're
>not  even  notified  it's taking place?  More- over, have we ever
>seen anything like this before  in  the  entire  history  of  the
>independent  counsel statute?  Presumably we wouldn't know unless
>Mr. Mystery I.C. actually charged someone.   Then,  suddenly  the
>investigation  and the indictment would have become public all at
>once. And that's certainly never happened before.
>    But  another,  perhaps  more  serious  concern   is   timing.
>Reportedly  the FBI has been investigating certain aspects of the
>Asian connection for almost two years now.  How long ago did Reno
>seek the first of her "at least two" secret independent counsels?
>Was it more than a year ago - before the 1996 election?   If  so,
>that means the American people re-elected a president while being
>deprived of the knowledge that his administration was then  under
>an  independent  counsel's  investigation, "believed to deal with
>national security issues". (UPI report)  Isn't this a little like
>not  telling the public about Watergate till after Nixon had left
>    If Janet Reno is indeed keeping multiple independent  counsel
>investigations  a  secret,  then  one  wonders - what else is the
>Justice Department hiding?
>    Perhaps a "confidential" indictment or two?
>  Published in the Oct. 20, 1997 issue of The Washington Weekly
>  Copyright 1997 The Washington Weekly (http://www.federal.com)
>          Reposting permitted with this message intact

Paul Andrew Mitchell, Sui Juris      : Counselor at Law, federal witness 01
B.A.: Political Science, UCLA;   M.S.: Public Administration, U.C.Irvine 02
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