Thursday, April 19, 2007

THE SMIRK IS GONE: GONZALES UNDER OATH, WHILE LEAHY COMMENTS UNDER-REPORTED (Bring Me the Head of Alberto Gonzales)

"The best way to put this behind us is your resignation." --GOP Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma at today's questioning of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.


Washington D.C.--This was extraordinarily entertaining. The Senators on the Senate Judiciary panel all came-out-swinging, and were making-contact with their opponent. Again, this is all supposed to be adversarial traditionally, without the comments of those being questioned being taken at face-value (as they were during the 109th and 110th Congress).
This is how the system is designed to work, irregardless of what party affiliation the person under oath happens to be. He's in an unimaginable amount of trouble. It's very hard to be in this much trouble, and this writer isn't referring to the US Attorney firings--he's worried about all the other crimes they're going to uncover in their investigations. It won't be hard, since federal investigators will be tripping-over them in their search for other pieces-of-information.

It cannot be stated enough: the entire game the Bush administration was playing--primarily Cheney and Rove's designs--was only possible under the former-GOP majority. They obstructed justice, and now their hands are tied as they should be. After all, they tied-themselves-up in the White House's web. Senator Coburn's comments came at the end of a very ugly-day of testimony where Gonzales was literally pelted by his GOP-peers. They had better be doing this if they want their party to survive (naturally, I don't). The Democrats got to get a little payback, which they're due:

Democrats, too, bored in."Since you apparently knew very little about the performance about the replaced United States attorneys, how can you testify that the judgment ought to stand?" asked Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Gonzales whether he had reviewed the evaluation records of the dismissed prosecutors, who Justice Department officials initially said had been fired for inadequate performance. He said he had not. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., questioned Gonzales sharply over his insistence that one former prosecutor, Carol Lam of California, had been told of Justice Department concerns with her record on immigration violations. The senator said Lam had testified to the contrary. But given Gonzales' political need for Republican support, the line of questioning from several GOP lawmakers was ominous. (AP, 04.19.2007)

Today was the 12th-anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and Coburn's comments can be viewed as symbolic of a general lack-of-faith in President Bush's handling of the war on terror, and the Bush administration itself generically. Forget the presidential elections of 2008, we're talking about just surviving this as a party now. But there have been a few divisions within the GOP since Bush began occupying the Oval Office (like the Columbia students in 1968--same generation, remember?). Oh yeah, and almost all of the Bush administration could go to prison. This writer cherishes the possibility.

The only way now is to hold the Bush administration accountable for everything they've done that's illegal. This writer can envision hearings and investigations that continue into the 2010's.The croc-smile was gone today, having vanished once the oath had been administered, and the legal-repercussions of lying were in-place. It behooves-the-question that we may consider having all employees in the Executive branch under oath while on-the-job until the time when they're no-longer federal employees and public servants. Interestingly, Gonzales threw them a bone: he had a conversation with the President about the evaluations of US Attorneys in October, and there might have been more-than-one.

"I now understand there was a conversation with myself and the president," he said at one point. Democrats have stoked the controversy over the dismissals, suggesting there were political considerations. But the first several hours of the hearing produced few if any fresh details.Gonzales acknowledged speaking with Bush and White House adviser Karl Rove about complaints over election fraud cases in New Mexico, where David Iglesias was the U.S. attorney. The conversation with Bush occurred on Oct. 11, Gonzales said. Iglesias' name was added to the list of those to be fired between Oct. 17 and Nov. 15 — a week after the November elections. (ibid)

This is BIG NEWS, yet there are no headlines proclaiming it. Yahoo and AP just had a lame one--"Gonzales rejects call for ouster," and other boring variations that wilfully-ignore the real story today. Bloomberg wasn't so coy: "Gonzales's Candor, Judgment Questioned by Senators (Update4)." The L.A. Times headlined with "Gonzales' performance might not matter." It's good to hedge-your-bets in a headline. Be vague when the political winds are shifting. We have been told by the Attorney General that the man who appointed him spoke with him about the US Attorney evaluations and firings beforehand. We also know they were expedited with incredible-speed after this conversation. It sure was faster than getting help to people in the Gulf states after Hurricane Katrina, wasn't it?

In one of the sharpest exchanges at today's hearing in Washington, Specter scolded the attorney general for interjecting that he is always prepared for his appearances before the Judiciary Committee. "Do you prepare for your press conferences?'' Specter shot back. "And were you prepared when you said you weren't involved in any deliberations'' on the firings? News Conference Gonzales, at a March 13 news conference, said he hadn't attended meetings or read memos about the dismissals. Documents given to Congress showed he attended the Nov. 27 meeting, which took place 10 days before the dismissals. "I've already conceded that I misspoke at the press conference,'' Gonzales said. (Bloomberg, 04.19.2007)

Yes, the March 13th press conference where we all remember he said he hadn't been in meetings, or read memos about the evaluation-lists and the subsequent firings of the eight US Attorneys, Carol Lam (San Diego), Bud Cummins (East Arkansas), Margaret Chiara (Grand Rapids, Michigan), David Iglesias (New Mexico), John McKay (Seattle), Paul Charlton (for all of Arizona), Kevin Ryan (San Francisco), and Daniel Bogden. Note: never send Alberto to fetch groceries.

Out of a total of 93 US Attorneys, these eight had to go. Oddly, it appears that in all-but-one case, performance wasn't an issue at all. It should also be repeated that David Iglesias was serving in the Reserves (called up by you-know-who) during part of his tenure as a federal prosecutor--his absence was sited as part of the reason behind his dismissal. It's just another example of how the Bush administration doesn't support our troops in any substantial respect.
But this administration's crimes are far-worse, and have violated numerous international laws approved before and after WWII, many governing the rules of war. They are alien interpretations in our system of governance and law. This is the other story the media is under-reporting, and so, Senator Leahy's comments have gone below the radar (unless you do some searching). This is to prevent it from being salient in the public mind.

Earlier in this process, it seemed that the Administration was concluding that any answer will do, whether it was rooted in the facts, or not. Those days are behind us. Just any answer won’t do anymore. We need the facts, and we will pursue the facts until we get to the truth. Just as respect for the United States as a leader on human rights has been diminished during the last six years, the current actions have served to undercut confidence in United States Attorneys. Just as Mr. Gonzales cannot claim immunity for the policies and practices regarding torture that were developed under his watch while White House counsel, he cannot escape accountability for signing off on this plan to undercut effective federal prosecutors and to infect federal law enforcement with narrow political goals. His actions have served to undermine public confidence in federal law enforcement and the rule of law. By getting to the truth, we can take a step toward restoring that trust. (judiciary.senate.gov/member_statement, 04.19.2007)

Nobody can save Alberto Gonzales except Alberto Gonzales. His days are numbered, and he'd better start talking a lot, and very-very soon. Today was just a starter.


Bloomberg Today: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aDqjRg4mXkos&refer=home

AP Today on the Ass-Whipping: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070419/ap_on_go_co/gonzales_prosecutors

Senator Leahy's comments on today's hearings: http://judiciary.senate.gov/member_statement.cfm?id=2632&wit_id=2629