The Curious Incident of the High Prophet in the Night-time
Why Did Karen Hughes Refuse the FBI's Help in Finding the Mole in the Bush Campaign?
 It's elementary...      by John H. Watson, M.D. (as told to Tamara Baker)

Sept. 27, 2000 -- DATELINE: THE SUSSEX DOWNS, UK (AmpolNS) 
Retirement with my old friend Sherlock Holmes should not be confused with boredom.

Thanks to his experiments with royal jelly (about which the world will hear much more some day),
both Holmes and I are in remarkably good shape for men of our advanced years, thus enabling us
to stave off the ennui resulting from the life of a shut-in.

To show but one example, we have both followed the American presidential campaign with
great interest. As Holmes is wont to say, this will be the big test of whether money and treachery,
in and of themselves, can put a singularly unfit man in the most powerful position in the world.

Judging from the American people's 1998 response to the attempted Republican coup,
I must say that there is hope yet that our American cousins will do the right thing.

It was with great interest, then, that Holmes logged on to his Linux-equipped experimental
1.5-gigahertz-plasma-chip-brained computer and pulled up the latest campaign headlines
from across the water. The tale of the peripatetic George W. Bush debate training tape
aroused his particular interest.

"What intolerable bounders these Bush minions are," cried Holmes, thumping the mouse pad in disgust.
"Look at this, Watson," he said, indicating the story which was displayed on the flat-panel monitor:

     FBI reviewing suspicious package containing Bush debate prep videos
     September 14, 2000 Web posted at: 9:56 AM EDT (1356 GMT)

     By Douglas Kiker

     WASHINGTON (AP) -- The FBI is reviewing a package received by a confidant of Al Gore that
     contained documents and a videotape apparently related to rival George W. Bush's debate

     It was unclear whether the material was legitimate.

     The mysterious parcel arrived a day before a meeting between the Gore and Bush campaigns
     Thursday with the Commission on Presidential Debates to try and work out details for fall

     Tom Downey, a former congressman who has been helping the vice president prepare for
     debates against Bush, received the unsolicited package Wednesday, and turned it over to his
     lawyer. The attorney gave the package to the FBI to determine whether the documents and tape
     were "illegally obtained from the Bush campaign," said Gore spokesman Mark Fabiani.

     Fabiani said Gore's staff did not know for certain whether the package was a hoax or actual Bush
     campaign material. Downey, however, has told associates he is convinced the material is
     legitimate, in part because he saw Bush in what appeared to be a mock debate with Sen. Judd
     Gregg, R-N.H., who is serving as Gore's stand-in during Bush debate sessions, according to two
     Democratic lawyers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

     The package came with a postmark from Austin, Texas, home of Bush's headquarters. The return
     address included a sender's name but Downey did not recognize it, his attorney said.

     "Using these materials was never an option," said Downey, who had been playing Bush in Gore's
     debate preparations "To do so would dishonor a great American tradition of open and honest

The article continued on for several paragraphs.

"I fail to understand what the Bush team's role could be in this, Holmes," I said.
"They seem to be the victims, not the perpetrators, of a crime."

Holmes smiled sadly at me, his lean face bathed in the faint glow of the monitor.
"Ah, Watson, you trust too much in the goodness of your fellow man. This was not only an 'inside job',
 to use the American terminology, but also an attempt to trap the Gore campaign in a snare from
which there would have been no escaping."

"Indeed, Holmes? How so?"

The detective lit a filtered cheroot. Pungent smoke wreathed his head, sending both of us into
coughing fits. Only when we had sufficiently recovered ourselves did Holmes respond to my question.

"I draw your attention to the following passages, Watson," he declaimed, poking a long thin finger
at the monitor. "Listen to this:"

     Gore chairman William Daley called Bush chairman Don Evans to notify him about the package.

     Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said: "We would like to review the material. Our attorneys have
     asked to review it."

     Bush communications director Karen Hughes said the campaign is not conducting an internal
     investigation because people who had "legitimate access" to the tapes were very few. "So
     obviously we don't feel that ... they came from our staff," Hughes said.

"Watson, remember that case of ours wherein you chronicled
'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time'?"

"Yes," I replied. "As I recall, the dog did nothing in the night-time. That was the curious incident."

Holmes smiled broadly. "Very good, old friend! Now, we know that the Bush team, as did that
of our old friend Professor Moriarty, prides itself on loyalty, and, as Richard Berke of the
New York Times has mentioned -- let me find the URL for my cite -- runs a very tight ship and
goes to great lengths to keep its staffers from any unauthorized contact with forces outside the
campaign, with dire punishments for transgressions of this policy. Ah, here's the cite:

     It is not unusual for such tensions to arise at a time when a candidate is watching his poll
     numbers sag, as Mr. Bush is. But many officials on both sides said the strains are deeper than
     usual, prompting one party official to say that Bush aides would likely investigate sources for this
     article. "There will be witch hunts," he said. "There will be victims."

Holmes then pulled up another website, this one featuring David Nyhan's Boston Globe column
and read the following aloud:

     Two key figures from a Keystone Kops 1986 political bugging scandal in Texas are now on the
     headquarters staff of Governor George W. Bush. The foreman of Bush's presidential campaign
     is Karl Rove. One of his deputies is Mark McKinnon. They have been alleging that the Gore
     campaign is pulling dirty tricks by spying on Bush's Austin headquarters.

     As it turns out, Democrats in Texas remember when this same pair were hip-deep in similar
     allegations in the 1986 Texas governor's race, when the two were on opposite sides.

     That year Rove, as campaign manager for Republican William Clements, claimed to have
     discovered a listening device hidden behind a red, white, and blue needlepoint hanging on
     Rove's office wall. It was the size of a matchbox, and Rove said it had been discovered by a
     security firm he hired to sweep his headquarters.

     McKinnon was Rove's opposite number in the camp of Democratic Governor Mark White, a
     former Texas attorney general. McKinnon claimed that Rove probably planted the bug himself
     and then announced it to smear the Democrats. There was a lot of bravado about dueling lie
     detector tests.

     The timing was also suspicious. Rove claimed to have discovered the bug only hours before the
     only televised debate of that campaign. The stink got worse when the owner of the security firm
     Rove hired refused to take a lie detector test ''for personal reasons,'' reported the AP at the time.

     It may come as no surprise that Rove was a disciple of the late Lee Atwater, whose deathbed
     conversion to Catholicism and public contrition for his dirty tricks came after he helped the
     campaign of George Bush the Elder savage Michael Dukakis.

     Atwater's spirit lives on in the Bush campaign. George W. was another Bush '88 operative who
     learned at the cowboy boots of the master. Dubbya's office was right across the hall from
     Atwater's, and Rove is on record as being an Atwater disciple.

     Rove lost no time in claiming that the Democrats had the most to gain by bugging his office. He
     called it ''Texasgate,'' natch. But he avoided saying he had proof. McKinnon, now his fellow
     camper in the Bush camp, denounced Rove then, claiming that Rove's suspicions were ''a bunch
     of bull'' and worse. McKinnon claimed that Rove's candidate was running on ''revenge ...
     venom.'' But that was then. Now McKinnon's name comes ahead of Rove's on the Bush payroll
     list. Consider this sequence of events:

     The Gore campaign adviser who's helping prep Gore for his debates with Bush gets a package
     in the mail containing a videotape of Bush's own debate preparations plus some other material.
     Gore's adviser, Tom Downey, who'd been portraying Bush in Gore's mock debates, alerts the
     campaign chief, Bill Daley, who turns the material over to the FBI...

     ..Did Rove contrive to have the videotape dispatched to Downey in hopes the Gore camp would
     take the cheese and not report the episode promptly to the FBI? So they could then leak the tale
     to friendly media outlets and catch the Gore camp red-handed? This caper ''has Karl Rove's
     fingerprints written all over it,'' claims Molly Beth Malcom, the Texas Democratic state
     chairwoman in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

     There's an eerie premonition of the Bush camp's current claim that Al Gore will do anything to
     win. In '86 Rove pushed the exact same line: ''Finding the bug convinced me that the opposition
     would say anything and do anything to win an election.'' Hmmm. Isn't that a coincidence?

"Now, Watson, go back to the CNN article" -- he then highlighted the web page, which he had kept
open alongside Mr. Berke's New York Times article --"and look at Karen Hughes' response to the
tape having turned up in the hands of a Gore partisan."

I reread the paragraph in question, then suddenly the light dawned. "Holmes, she really doesn't
want any investigation at all! One would think that, if there really were a Gore informer in the
Bush campaign, she of all people would spare no effort to find him!"

Holmes patted me on the shoulder. "Watson, I'll make a detective out of you yet.
And can you now tell me why she would not want an investigation of the Bush team?"

It was all very obvious now. "Because she knew perfectly well that there is no Gore man --
or 'mole' -- inside the Bush team. And that could only be because she herself, or more likely
Karl Rove, ordered the tape to be sent to the Gore campaign, as a way to tempt Albert A. Gore
into doing something he would later regret."

"Capital, Watson! You have hit it exactly. The only reason that Rove and Hughes' shabby
little gambit failed is because Gore's people are as honest and honorable as you are yourself, Watson.
Mr. Downey immediately turned the tape over to the FBI, and they are even now finding that the tape
could only have come from a Bush campaign staffer." He paused to stub out his cheroot.
"The Bush team made a big mistake: they assumed, wrongly, that Mr. Gore and his staffers are as
venal and corrupt and dirty-dealing are they are themselves. I'm glad that the Bush minions are
not quite as intelligent as they are crooked and wealthy!"

Privacy Policy
. .