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September 20, 2006

Why should we be surprised?

Why should we be surprised at what comes out of Arizona these days? Flopping Aces describes a 9/11 memorial that includes references to a mistaken U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, Congress's questioning why the CIA and FBI didn't prevent the 9/11 attacks, etc. (via HotAir)

I don't remember a lot of names. I don't remember a lot about what happened 15 years ago. But I remember Janet Napolitano, now the Governor of Arizona.

Fifteen years ago, Janet Napolitano was an "adviser" to Anita Hill, who came forward to accuse Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for the Supreme Court, of sexual harassment. One of Hill's main corroborating witnesses -- the only one supposedly with contemporaneous evidence -- was Susan Hoerchner. Trouble was that in a deposition by senate committee staff, Hoerchner had at first stated that her phone conversations with Hill about the harassment had taken place while Hoerchner was still in Washington -- i.e., before September 1981. But Hill didn't work for Thomas until after that time. Once Hoerchner understood the problem, Napolitano suddenly called for a recess of the deposition. Though she was an adviser to Hill, she talked to Hoerchner during the break. When the deposition resumed, Hoerchner suddenly wasn't so sure when these conversations took place. How convenient!

Before David Brock self-immolated, he wrote a book called The Real Anita Hill. Parts of the book were pretty creepy, to be sure, but a lot of it was based on clear record evidence and thus was unassailable. For instance, the section describing the deposition I've mentioned. Here's a quotation that I got from someone's site out there:

In her testimony to the Judiciary Committee, Anita Hill stated: "I began working with Clarence Thomas in the early fall of 1981. . . . Early on, our working relationship was positive. . . . After approximately three months of working together, he asked me to go out with him socially." She told him no, and the first alleged incident of harassment occurred in "the following few weeks" -- i.e., in late December 1981 or January 1982.

Now, consider Hoerchner's deposition:

Q. And, in an attempt to try to pin down the date a little bit more specifically as to your first phone conversation about the sexual harassment issue in 1981, the year you mentioned, you said the first time you moved out of Washington was September of 1981; is that correct?

A. Right.

Q. Okay. Were you living in Washington at the time you two had this phone conversation?

A. Yes.

Q. When she told you?

A. Yes.

Q. So it was prior to September of 1981?

A. Oh, I see what you're saying.

Moments later, Hoerchner's attorney Janet Napolitano, a feminist activist who was also advising Anita Hill, asked for a recess. Remember, Hoerchner had told interviewers several times that the call occurred before September 1981. After conferring with Napolitano, Hoerchner, back on the record again, was asked by a Democratic staff counsel:

Q. When you had the initial phone conversation with Anita Hill and she spoke for the first time about sexual harassment, do you recall where you were living -- what city?
A. I don't know for sure.
So the Hill adviser, who then became the U.S. Attorney in Arizona, and later became the Governor, now thinks this nutjob 9/11 memorial is "unique, bold, educational and unforgettable." It probably contains about as much accuracy as . . . I don't know . . . Hoerchner's deposition?