Watergate 2004? Maybe not

Via Josh Marshall and the Boston Globe, “Senate’s GOP staff pried on Democrats.” Sounds eerily familiar, except this time (thirty years later) it’s the Senate, not the White House staff, being accused of illegally eavesdropping on the other party. Apparently, for almost a year, GOP staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee were accessing what the Globe article calls “restricted Democratic communications” and leaking the information, including sensitive documents about Democratic positions and tactics on judicial nominees.

On the technology level, there is a claim in the article that the GOP’s computer technician told his Democratic counterpart of the problem but that nothing was fixed. Hmm. So if I happen to notice that your office is unlocked, that means it’s OK to come inside, read your mail, and leak all the juicy parts to your co-workers?

On the political level, it’s interesting that only the Republicans chose to take advantage of the glitch, though it appears to have granted equal access to both sides’ documents. It’s also interesting to speculate how high up there was awareness that these files were being accessed.

It’s no executive level cover up. But it is interesting to hear GOP spinmasters say things like “There appears to have been no hacking, no stealing, and no violation of any Senate rule.” That sets an interesting precedent for prosecuting computer crime going forward.