We couldn’t help but note the irony when John Kerry took the lead in calling on the White House to release all documents and memos related to Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, covering his work for two past Republican administrations. “We cannot do our duty if either Judge Roberts or the Bush administration hides elements of his professional record,” Kerry said, as reported by USA Today.
The Bush administration has agreed to release some 75,000 pages of documents, and more on a case-by-case basis, though clearly the push for even more will continue throughout the confirmation process. They will never provide enough documentation to satisfy the critics who want to keep Roberts from joining the Court, or at least to embarrass the administration and make it appear they have something to hide. Clearly there are legitimate issues of lawyer-client privilege, national security and executive privilege that must be considered, and always have been for various nominations through the years.
This same tactic was used to hold up the nomination of John Bolton as UN ambassador, until his recent recess appointment. In his case it was NSA intercepts, which are classified intelligence reports produced by the National Security Agency. Ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence John Rockefeller got to review all ten NSA documents that included references to people, about whom Mr. Bolton inquired. He wrote that he “found no evidence that there was anything improper about Mr. Bolton’s ten requests?” But this changed nothing in terms of the Democrats’ demands.
And the same thing happened with Miguel Estrada, President Bush’s nominee for an appellate court position. The White House refused to agree to provide the documents from Estrada’s time at the Justice Department, and the Democrats filibustered his nomination.
So what about John Kerry’s record on releasing documents. He is now out front calling for a release of documents “in their entirety” for that period of John Roberts’ professional life. Mr. Kerry, the presidential candidate, promised on Meet the Press in April of 2004 to release his full military file, including medical records. He said they were available already to anyone who wanted to come to his office. But the next day, when a reporter took him up on his offer, he was turned away. Later on, the Kerry campaign did release a few hundred pages of documents and posted them on their website.
But it was only May of this year that Mr. Kerry finally signed the privacy-waiver form, and it only initially released the documents to the Boston Globe, a very friendly paper whose star reporter, Michael Kranish, is also one of Mr. Kerry’s biographers. The documents were released in June to the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press, along with the Globe. A couple of reporters, independent journalist Thomas Lipscomb and Josh Gersten of the New York Sun, have stayed on this story, trying to make the records available for everyone to examine, as Kerry had promised. Some bloggers and the Swift Boat Veterans continue to question the terms and timing of Kerry’s discharge, why his medals and decorations were reissued in 1985, and the records on his battlefield encounters.
Some of his supporters, such as Kranish and the liberal blog Daily Kos, question Kerry’s judgment in not having released all of this back during the campaign, instead of making it appear he had something to hide. “An earlier release of the full record,” Kranish wrote in June, might have helped his campaign because it contains a number of reports lauding his service. The Daily Kos said, “The incompetent way that matter was handled knows no bounds.”
Either way it seems odd that Kerry would be leading the call for the release of all documents, when his own record on the matter is so spotty. But the mainstream media don’t even bring this up, especially while they have in their sights Bush nominees to the Supreme Court and the U.N.