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DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe filed a Freedom of Information Act request today to back his suspicion that the Bush administration publicized the FBI probe of former National Security Adviser Sandy Berger for political purposes.

Berger, who resigned yesterday as a security adviser for the Kerry campaign, is the focus of a Justice Department investigation for removing classified documents and handwritten notes from a secure reading room prior to the Sept. 11 Commission hearings.

McAullife’s letter to Melanie Ann Pustay, deputy director
Office of Information and Policy at the Department of Justice, said while the investigation of the former Clinton aide has been going on since October, “the criminal investigation only came to light three days prior to the release of a report expected to be critical of the Bush administration’s lack of focus on the events leading up to the 9-11 attacks.”

He quoted “conservative scholar” Norm Ornstein, who told CNN yesterday, “you can’t look at the timing of this with anything but an enormous amount of skepticism.”

“In light of the seriousness of the possibility that the Bush administration and the Department of Justice have politicized an ongoing investigation, it is imperative that this Freedom of Information request is responded to in an expedited manner,” the letter states.

The DNC asks for copies of all communications related to the Berger investigation between the Justice Department and White House, Republican National Committee or Bush presidential campaign, including e-mail, memos, phone records and meeting notes.

“If all or any part of this request is denied, please cite the specific exemption which you believe justifies your refusal to release the information and inform me of your agency’s administrative appeal procedures available to me under the law,” the letter reads.

One exemption in the code that could prove to be a problem for the DNC prevents release of “records compiled for law enforcement purposes.”

The Justice Department has 20 working days to respond, notes McAulliffe.

Related stories:

Where’s Clinton on Berger affair?

Ashcroft: Berger doc exposes security lapse

N.Y. Times buries Berger story

Clinton aide took home classified 9-11 papers

Berger friends challenge sock-stuffing charge

Speaker Hastert ‘troubled’ by Berger probe

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