Friday, April 06, 2007

THE US ATTORNEY FIRINGS: GONZALES AIDE MONICA GOODLING RESIGNED TODAY

I am woman, hear me obstruct.

Washington D.C.--It's official, she's gone. The senior counsel and aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been fired as yet another human-parachute for the embattled Bush administration. The question now is: will she continue to "plead the Fifth" with the House and Senate Judiciary Committee's investigations and hearings?

I think she will, initially, until the pressure just gets to be too-much. Also, she's likely to feel the sting and the smear-job from Karl Rove and the rest of the GOP's echo chamber. Eventually, she will talk, though it might not even matter. Now that Gonzales's former-chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson has testified, and revealed that Gonzales has lied in the press on numerous-occasions (specifically on March 13th), it might not. Now, the dance begins.

[Goodling's counsel] Dowd said in letters last month to the House and Senate committees that Goodling faced a risk of being prosecuted for perjury if she testified at congressional hearings. He cited the partisan political atmosphere surrounding the inquiry and noted that lawmakers voiced doubts that top Justice Department officials had given accurate or complete accounts of the firings. "The fact that a few senators and members of the House have expressed publicly their doubts about the credibility of the attorney general and deputy attorney general'' in their statements to Congress "does not in any way excuse your client from answering questions honestly and to the best of her ability,'' Conyers and Sanchez said. (Bloomberg, 04.03.2007)

In other words, Monica Goodling would be forced to lie. Yet, the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are offering her the option of questioning by congressional lawyers in a "private setting." No bites yet, but they're coming with upcoming-revelations. Meanwhile, April 12th Justice Dept. budgetary hearings have been pushed-back because of the loss-of-faith in Gonzales's "credibility" to run the department with any transparency or honesty.

Is it "partisan"? Of course it is, and that's OK. Again, the system of parliamentary politics is driven by adversarialism...when it's working. We can rest-assured that at least 2/3rd's of the American public feel that it wasn't working under the 108th and the 109th "do-nothing" Congress, both dominated by the GOP. That's not healthy for any political system. But the thaw is here, and we're finally seeing a DNC with at least a modicum of backbone.

"I am hereby submitting my resignation to the office of attorney general," Monica M. Goodling said in a three-sentence letter. There was no immediate reason given, but her refusal to face Congress had intensified a controversy that threatens Gonzales' job. Asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Goodling had rejected demands for a private interview with a House committee investigating the firings. Goodling was senior counsel to Gonzales and was the department's White House liaison before she took a leave amid the uproar over the prosecutors' ousters. (AP, 04.06.2007)

Much of the obstructing appears to be to protect Karl Rove, though it's utterly certain that the president is also being shielded from any responsibility. You notice he hasn't been going to Crawford much anymore? You'd be busy too if you had so many holes to plug-up. The leaks will keep-coming due to all the alienating the Bush administration did after 9/11 within the federal bureaucracy. For those who don't know, that's what "whistle-blowing" constitutes--an underling witnessing illegal-actions within the bureaucracy committed by their superiors, and potentially authorized by the Executive. That is whistle-blowing, and we're seeing more of it in Washington than we ever have.

The cancelled April 12th appropriations hearings for the Justice Department: that's a resounding message from Congress that Gonzales's time is running-out, and that real answers had better be forthcoming immediately...or no monies will be appropriated anytime soon for Justice. It's a direct shot over-the-bow of the Executive, and a refreshing one that is long-overdue.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is demanding the Gonzales turn-over all documents relating to the plan to fire all eight of the US Attorneys-in-question. He's also been criticizing Gonzales this week in the press for not answering 200 written questions that were submitted to him after his January appearance in the senate on domestic spying operations by the FBI, as well as "leaks in FBI corruption cases." By Thursday, the Justice Department had them delivered to the committee. See how well oversight and accountability in government works?

Also pounding Gonzales and the Bush administration are--surprise!--GOP-incumbents. This writer grants that Arlen Specter will keep showing "disappointment," but we know how effectual that's been. The pathos, I tell ya.' Still, he's part of a growing chorus within the GOP that this affair must be investigated thoroughly, and that a new attorney general is probably in-order. Yet, the headlines on the internet and elsewhere paint it as a "setback." To what? There should be no funding while such scandals as illegal-surveillance and abuse of office are being exposed. The Democratic reaction is sound.

But Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md, said the political firestorm should be resolved before Gonzales talks about the Justice Department's spending plan for next year."It would be very difficult in this environment to give the department's budget request the attention it deserves until the Senate has examined the department's leadership failures," said Mikulski, who heads the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that had planned to hear from Gonzales on April 12. The delay means Gonzales won't appear publicly on Capitol Hill until April 17-- which even Republicans are calling a "make or break" performance — to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing into the firings. (AP, 04.06.2007)

It strikes the writer that with the upcoming centenary of the FBI, there should be a reassessment of its role--and that of the Justice Department itself--in our society. It's time to defund any and all political police operations, and any counterintelligence sections that are designed purely to spy-upon domestic political-groups of any persuasion.

That was never part of legitimate policing and law enforcement in any civilized nation, and many developed countries don't even have an analog to the FBI (Germany, for example). Only law enforcement activities with a much-narrower civil scope is appropriate, not within the realm of politics. Investigating and fighting violent-crime and corruption should be the solitary-role of the FBI. Goodling should be compelled to appear before the Judiciary committees. What she does after that is her responsibility. It's her call.

Bloomberg, 04.03.2007 on Goodling: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aBwtV5mobsWo&refer=us

AP Today: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070406/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/fired_prosecutors

AP on the cancelled April 12th Hearings: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1607601,00.html