Friday, April 20, 2007

GonzoGate ~ Friday Fallout

Wha, wha, what'd I do?
Being dumb (or just playing the role) must be one the few things 'Berto will admit to publically, as long as it spares George & his brain, Karl Rove, from having to testify. That's his function here, y'know.
Any litigation lawyer can tell you when it's time to unpack the Magic Trick Box of Obfuscatory Maneuvers (handed to every law student the day they graduate). In it are delay, fumbling, evasiveness, pretending not to understand, asking the the questioner to repeat & qualify questions, obstructionism, stonewalling, & finally, if forced to give an answer, giving one that means nothing at all. They are the absolute last tactics left the clever litigator when there is absolutely no substantive defense left to argue.
By that measure, 'Berto performed brilliantly yesterday, & we'll see if his heroic effort to keep the Bushco ship of state from foundering on the jagged rocks of democracy will hold.
Today's post-mortems on 'Berto's performance include this piece (excerpted) by David Swanson, the Washington Director of and co-founder of the coalition, a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and of the Backbone Campaign. Mr. Swanson points out the reasons he thinks the senators conducting the hearings were too soft on Gonzales.
"Through the course of questioning by Senator Leahy, Gonzales said that he had met with the President on October 11, 2006, and Bush expressed concerns about 'voter fraud.' Actually, Gonzales initially used the phrase 'election fraud,' but made clear that he really had in mind a mythical epidemic of 'voter fraud.'
"Specter then laid out a chronology:
December 2004: you talked to Sampson.
June 1, 2006: in email Sampson discussed your plans to remove [Fomer San Diego prosecutor Carol] Lam.
June 4 or 5: Attorney Mercer discussed with you Lam's performance.
June 13, 2006: Sampson says you consulted on removal of [Arkansas prosecutor] Bud Cummins.
Oct. 11, 2006: you went to White House to talk with Rove and Bush about your vote fraud concerns, came back and told Sampson to look into it, including in New Mexico.
Nov. 2006: you attended a meeting with Sampson, Monica Goodling, etc., about the proposed removals.
[In light of that,]"Do you think it's accurate to say you only had a limited role?" Specter asked. A good question, but not a clear-cut yes or no question of the sort a Senator should know how to ask.

"Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA.) wondered if Gonzales had read the reports on the attorneys who were fired, the standard job performance reports that go by the DOJ acronym EARS. The AG replied that he had not. In two cases, he claimed, he was not even aware of any reasons for the firings he approved, but in the others he was independently aware of problems with the attorneys.
"Sam Brownback (R-KS.) then gave Gonzales a relatively friendly forum in which to provide, unchallenged, the reasons he claims each attorney was fired. His response on the first of them, Nevada's top federal prosecutor Daniel Bogden, was that he did not know why he was firing him. Three breaths later, he claimed that he struggled over the decision.
"San Francisco prosecutor Kevin Ryan, he said, was so poorly reviewed that they had to send out a second EARS team, although he, of course, being the Attorney General, did not read such reports.
"Arkansas prosecutor Bud Cummins was supposedly canned primarily because there was 'another well-qualified individual'they wanted to give the job to.
"Now would have been the time for some Senator to recall having read Greg Palast's article in the current issue of In These Times arguing that the replacement candidate, Timothy Griffin, former deputy research director for the Republican National Committee, rather than being well-qualified, is an out-and-out criminal.
"Under questioning by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA.), Gonzales admitted that he had been 'the decider,' that he had indeed made the decision to fire the attorneys -- sort of -- and that he'd read the EARS reports -- maybe -- but given them 'appropriate weight.'
"Under questioning by Russ Feingold (D-WI.), Gonzales added, without blinking, that he had not asked for, or learned, the justifications for the firings.
So, said Feingold, you had no basis for telling readers of your op-ed in USA Today that the attorneys had 'lost your confidence.'
"Gonzales cited the CSLDJ ["consensus"'of the senior leadership of the Department of Justice"] and said, 'I will say I regret those words."
"(The USA Today editorial page had another view. It asked the Attorney General: "Which time were you telling the truth? Gonzales has bounced from one account of his role in the dismissals to another. On March 7, he wrote on this page that the fired prosecutors ‘simply lost my confidence.' Six days later, he contradicted his writing and portrayed himself as clueless, saying he ‘was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions.'")
"Two more Senators put up an effort to get a straight answer on something before lunch, Charles Schumer (D-NY.) and Dick Durbin (D-IL.). According to both Gonzales' Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and prosecutor Carol Lam, Schumer pointed out, the Department of Justice had not communicated to Lam any concern about her prosecution of immigration cases (those being Gonzales' main excuse for having fired her). Gonzales claimed that "Congress members" had talked to her about the matter; in his mealy-mouthed way, he tried to imply that DOJ had done so too. But Schumer would have none of it.
"So, we are to believe the unbelievable. As Josh Marshall has pointed out at Talking Points Memo, with the obvious political reasons for her firing staring us in the face (her prosecution of Republicans), we are to believe she was fired for something her employer never even discussed with her.
"Schumer hit on one other obvious Gonzales contradiction.
"On December 15, 2006, he said, the Attorney General told Senator Mark Pryor that he would work to see that Karl Rove's candidate, Timothy Griffin, faced a confirmation hearing in the Senate.
"Then, on December 19, Sampson emailed White House Counsel Harriet Miers, indicating that the DOJ wanted to get around that process, using delaying tactics that would pave the way for a recess appointment.
"'You can't have it both ways,' Schumer told Gonzales. Either you lied or your Chief of Staff operates on his own. Either way, Schumer insisted, 'You should not be Attorney General.'
"Gonzales claimed that he was unaware of Sampson's email, despite the fact that Sampson, under oath, had sworn otherwise.

"Senator Durbin touched on similar territory, pointing out that Sampson recommended to White House Counsel Miers that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald be removed in the middle of his investigation of the White House's outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame. In typical fashion, Gonzales claimed he neither remembered this, nor had been consulted.
"Durbin then criticized Gonzales and the AG promptly objected: 'If you criticize the Department, you are criticizing career professionals.' Not a smart thing to say. Durbin cut him off at the knees with a comment the likes of which hadn't previously been heard in the Senate: 'That is like saying that, if you oppose the war, you're opposing the troops.' The crowd in the back of the room broke out in applause.
"The hearing was to continue in a similar vein after lunch. And other hearings and private interviews would continue, undoubtedly in a similar vein, in the weeks to come.
"The House Judiciary Committee is considering granting limited immunity to Gonzo's former counsel Monica Goodling, whose lawyer said she would take the Fifth and has refused to appear...
"On Tuesday, Gonzales refused to comply with a committee subpoena for documents related to the attorney firings...
"Of course, he fits right in. Both judiciary committees have approved, but not yet dared issue subpoenas for Karl Rove, Miers, and other key White House players. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has already asked Secretary of Condoleezza Rice four times to appear or be subpoenaed, but has not dared subpoena her.
"The fear is, no doubt, of delays and of a Supreme Court now made up, in part, by people like Alberto Gonzales. How to hold the executive branch to account? The current dilemma seems like a real mystery, something our Constitution just does not provide a solution for.
"Even if we could get rid of Gonzales, who would replace him? Who, appointed by George Bush and Dick Cheney, would obey and enforce the law? The answer is simple enough: Nobody.
"Fortunately, our Constitution does provide a solution. It's called impeachment, and on Saturday, April 28, there will be an event near you demanding it."
Also today, in an editorial for the New York Times that was high on the "most e-mailed" list, 'Berto was lambasted for coming across "as a dull-witted apparatchik incapable of running one of the most important departments in the executive branch."
The op-ed starts, "If Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had gone to the Senate yesterday to convince the world that he ought to be fired, it’s hard to imagine how he could have done a better job, short of simply admitting the obvious: that the firing of eight United States attorneys was a partisan purge."
And gets better from there. Read on (title bar).

'Berto sweated it out & was a good soldier, didn't spill the beans about anything having to do with Meiers, Rove, or George himself, & thus the Decider pronounced himself pleased after it was all over.
For now, at least.



Blogger sumo said...

Like Jim Morrison said...sqirmin' like a toad...

Dusty told me to give you a look-see...and I want to thank you for your nice comment on the "quiet" post. It sounds like...welcome aboard at this point!

4:27 PM  
Blogger Demon Princess said...

Love The Doors, & Morrison's psychedelic lyrics. Now that you mention it, he WAS talking about 'Berto! (Altho I heard, "swirlin' as opposed to "squirmin'")_--doesn't matter, it's the SPIRIT intended.

5:59 PM  

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