Thursday, April 05, 2007

'Berto Locks Himself In Office ~ Frantically Prepares To Testify

Today's news of interest in the ongoing GonzoGate debacle is that 'Berto has hunkered down to study his options & prepare for his testimony before Congress on the 12th & 17th. (Title bar.)

Demon Princess wonders why all the fuss ~ he could just tell the truth.

Er, except that the truth probably wouldn't serve his objectives very well, which she presumes involve keeping his position. Poor 'Berto. That's what trying to talk outta both sides of your mouth willy-nilly gets ya.

"Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has retreated from public view this week in an intensive effort to save his job, spending hours practicing testimony and phoning lawmakers for support in preparation for pivotal appearances in the Senate this month, according to administration officials.

"After struggling for weeks to explain the extent of his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales and his aides are viewing the Senate testimony on April 12 and April 17 as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment, officials said.

"Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and Timothy E. Flanigan, who worked for Gonzales at the White House, have met with the attorney general to plot strategy. The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week and Gonzales has placed phone calls to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers seeking support, officials said.

"Gonzales is seeking to convince skeptical lawmakers that he can be trusted to command the Justice Department after the prosecutor firings, which he initially described as an 'overblown personnel matter.' Subsequent documents and testimony from his former chief of staff have shown that Gonzales was regularly briefed on the process, revelations that have led to calls for his resignation.

"Justice officials and outside experts said the effort is further hampered by legal conflicts among Gonzales and his senior aides. Top Democrats have also accused department officials of misleading Congress in previous testimony, leading Justice lawyers to insist on limiting contact between key players to avoid allegations of obstructing a congressional investigation, officials said.

"As a result, Gonzales and senior Justice lawyers have so far received little assistance from the White House and cannot consult with some of his closest aides, including Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, officials said.

"'We are hampered because some senior officials are not able to discuss the facts as they know them in the same room, for fears of additional accusations of misleading Congress,' said one Justice official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue."

That is, fear of the Republicans getting together & agreeing what the story should be. A legitimate concern, considering how every Bushco-captive branch of government has operated so far.

The pressure continues to mount with news like this, also today ~ fired NM prosecutor Iglesias is talking to special counsel investigating whether violations occurred of federal laws such as whistleblower, other anti-retaliation provisions, or the Hatch Act, which forbids public servants from engaging in certain partisan activities, as mentioned in a previous post.

"Justice Department officials have said they added Iglesias to the list of prosecutors to be dismissed because his supervisors deemed him an 'absentee landlord,' who delegated too much authority to his second-in-command.

"Iglesias acknowledges traveling out of New Mexico on U.S. attorney business and that he has spent some 40 to 45 days a year in his service in the Navy Reserve.

"The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act prohibits an employer from denying any benefit of employment on the basis of an individual's military service.
"New Mexico Republicans, including Sen. Pete Domenici, complained to White House and Justice Department officials that Iglesias moved too slowly on voter fraud and political corruption cases.

"Iglesias says he was fired for resisting pressure from Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., to rush indictments in an investigation of an alleged kickback scheme involving Democrats. Domenici and Wilson acknowledge calling Iglesias in October before the 2006 election, but they say they did not pressure him.

"Iglesias said his discussions with the Special Counsel's staff includes questions about whether the pressure from officials to act on voter fraud or corruption cases might violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits civil servants from engaging in partisan political activity.

"Iglesias said the Special Counsel also is looking into whether he might have a claim under whistleblower protection laws, even though he was dismiseed two months before he publicly discussed the calls he received from Wilson and Domenici. Iglesias said the details are still being researched."
And in the Chicago Tribune today, a former prosecutor reminds us what is so terribly wrong with a partisan prosecutor:
"But what is the recognition of why the stories concerning the firing of eight U.S. attorneys merits continued front-page coverage. It has to do with power and politics.

"There may be no public office in the United States that can change the course of a person's life as dramatically or swiftly as that of a prosecutor. A person can be sitting at his desk or on his sofa one day, and the next be visited by government agents who whisk him away to jail without notice. His life will be shattered beyond repair. He will lose his job, his life's savings and, in most cases, his freedom and perhaps even his family.

"An unspoken, but widely acknowledged, truth is that the prosecutor's power to take away everything precious in someone's life is virtually unchecked. While a prosecutor might not be able to persuade a grand jury to indict the proverbial ham sandwich -- as the common saw goes -- I am certain it would indict the maker of that sandwich for using mayonnaise not mustard, if the prosecutor is zealous enough.

"No bills," where a grand jury declines to honor a prosecutor's request to indict, are as rare as Cubs World Series appearances. Once an indictment is issued, the court system provides little more of a check or balance. The courtroom tilts heavily toward the government's side.

"This awesome power rests primarily with 93 U.S. attorneys across the country, who are appointed by the president, typically based on recommendations of senators from the president's party. This process is inherently political.

"However, as the former chief of the criminal division of the Chicago office...I can attest that every assistant U.S. attorney in that office appreciates the weight of the power he or she has and the responsibility it entails. Every one of them understands the importance of making decisions based only on the merits of the case.

"In the past, Washington has been scrupulous about avoiding putting a political finger on that scale. The system depends on this impartiality. We are prepared to give these attorneys largely unchecked power to ruin lives that has no analog in our system of government because we have faith that, correct or incorrect, they exercise their awesome power free from political influence.

"Now, however, politics rears its ugly head. The Bush administration has rated these people vested with awesome power not on independence, energy, zeal or integrity, but on 'loyalty' to the White House.
"It is hard to imagine a more dangerous and misguided measuring stick for those who make the decision whether to indict political officeholders who may be corrupt, among other potential defendants."

I have to agree. Who gets to excercise that kind of power & in the pursuit of a blantantly political purge pogramme is just too much to be entrusted to baby Republicons, however power-hungry & entitled they may think themselves to be.



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Blogger Demon Princess said...

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