Déjà vu, all over again. And again. And again.

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As the New York Times reports,

Large batches of e-mail records from the Justice Department lawyers who worked on the 2002 legal opinions justifying the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation techniques are missing, and the Justice Department told lawmakers Friday that it would try to trace the disappearance. At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who leads the panel, angrily demanded to know what had happened to the e-mail files, and he noted that the destruction of government records, including official e-mail messages, was a criminal offense.

The disappearance of harmful documentation and related amnesia is a leitmotif of the George W. Bush administration, but also of his father’s political career. Just to remind of a few instances:

-Under George W. Bush, the CIA destroyed tapes of its officers engaged in activities tantamount to torture.

-Email records of Karl Rove and his associates went missing-emails that might have shed light on improper political pressures applied to US Attorneys. (The Obama Administration says it will try to recover some of them from a specific time period, though others are lost and gone for good.)

-Many of George W. Bush’s military records are missing; the accidental destruction of microfilm, a fire at a records facility and other mishaps were blamed.

-Bush’s father has at various points in his career claimed not to remember where he was or not to remember participating in crucial meetings at which illegal activities were discussed-such as the diversion of weapons for an unauthorized war in Nicaragua. (See my book, Family of Secrets, for more on the father in this regard.)

The government and media exhibited great zeal in examining tempests involving Bill Clinton-from purported misuse of the White House travel office to an unprofitable land deal called Whitewater to the consensual if tawdry affair involving Monica Lewinsky. Surely, by comparison or on its own merits, the ongoing suppression of documentation pertaining to massive tampering with the overarching democratic mechanism warrants a thorough and muscular inquiry.

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