WASHINGTON -- A federal judge ordered experts yesterday to do laboratory tests on the personal diaries of Sen. Bob Packwood to see if he tampered with them after Senate ethics investigators grew interested in their contents.
The committee broadened its misconduct investigation of the Oregon Republican late last year to include potentially illegal efforts to "obstruct" the Senate probe by altering diary tapes or taped transcripts.
The committee told Judge Jackson that, fearing that the committee might subpoena the diaries, the senator took back some of the tapes from a secretary and altered the tapes and the transcribed versions she had typed earlier.
The laboratory tests, the judge said, are to "determine the nature and extent of any alterations in those materials."
Meanwhile, the judge postponed for 15 days his ruling that Mr. Packwood must hand over to the committee all parts of his diaries that bear on its investigation of allegations that he engaged in unwanted sexual advances toward women, attempted to intimidate female witnesses and used his Senate position to get a job for his estranged wife. The 15-day delay is designed to give the senator an opportunity to file an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the committee's subpoenas.
The judge also named former U.S. Solicitor General Kenneth W. Starr to supervise the processing of the tapes and to review Mr. Packwood's use of his right to "mask" parts of the diaries having nothing to do with the Senate investigation.