T Nation

Goodbye, Alberto Gonzales?

Want to start a pool, for how long Attorney General Alberto Gonzales can keep his job? He’s had two major scandals in the last two weeks.

First, the firing of the US Attorneys by the Justice Department. Gonzales testified to Congress that it wasn’t politically motivated, however it appears that he may have perjured himself on that one. Even if the firings were not used as punishment, it appears that Gonzales was installing Bush loyalists into those positions. Also, 80 percent of the Justice Department’s investigations have been into Democrats (and in the Abramoff era, that is a truly remarkable statistic).

The idea that these investigations were not partisan-driven would seem to be a statistical impossibility. (Remember the pre-election investigation of Senator Menendez in New Jersey? Now that the election is over, what happened?) Long story short, Gonzales seems to be operating the Justice Department as a partisan enforcement arm of the GOP.

Also happening under Gonzales is the revelation that the FBI has been abusing the Patriot Act, in order to spy on US citizens. All that data is going into a permanent federal data bank, by the way. Big Brother, anyone? It’s a fact that the FBI has been breaking the law, but they’re pleading ignorance. Ignorance is not a plausible defense.

And that’s not the worst of it. Gonzales has already stated that he doesn’t think Americans have a Constitutional right to privacy, or a Constitutional right to Habeus Corpus. (The right to Habeus Corpus was declared in the fucking Magna Carta in 1215, it’s only one of the foundations of Western Civilization). And Gonzales doesn’t think the Geneva Conventions are to be taken seriously. It’s nice that he can decide that, on his own.

But before he was named the Attorney General, Gonzales was a real estate lawyer. Then he was Bush’s personal attorney. He has no background in Constitutional law. It’s another example of the president rewarding loyalty over qualifications. And Gonzales acts like his main job as Attorney General is to protect Bush, instead of protecting the rule of law.

I know Gonzales won’t step down, but who thinks that Gonzales will still be the top law enforcement official in America, a year from now?

Attorney General Gonzales may have advised Bush to kill a Justice Department probe into his own (Gonzales’) illegal activity, in the domestic spying controversey.

DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE
Internal Affairs
Aborted DOJ Probe Probably Would Have Targeted Gonzales

[i]Shortly before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush last year on whether to shut down a Justice Department inquiry regarding the administration’s warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the investigation, according to government records and interviews.

Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work.

It is unclear whether the president knew at the time of his decision that the Justice inquiry – to be conducted by the department’s internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Professional Responsibility – would almost certainly examine the conduct of his attorney general.[/i]

http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/0315nj1.htm

There is a real problem when the government starts to surround itself exclusively with cronies and remove any ability for a balance of opinion.

Wasn’t that how the Soviet system used to work?

In any case, I do hope that whether people are left or right they realize that government is not about attempting to force your own viewpoint throughout the entire administrative system.

It really speaks to the mindset and character of our current government and it has been happening for ages. It’s disgusting and incredibly sad that so many people are simply afraid to see it for what it is.

This current style of government is not acceptable, period, and it has nothing to do with left and right.

It’s true. Gonzolez should have followed in the hallowed footsteps of Janet Reno, by firing ALL of the US Attorneys, and then replacing them all for NON-PARTISAN reasons. That would make it all ok. Maybe it’s not too late.

The WSJ had a good editorial yesterday on the underlying controversy:

[i]The Hubbell Standard
March 14, 2007; Page A14

Congressional Democrats are in full cry over the news this week that the Administration’s decision to fire eight U.S. Attorneys originated from – gasp – the White House. Senator Hillary Clinton joined the fun yesterday, blaming President Bush for “the politicization of our prosecutorial system.” Oh, my.

As it happens, Mrs. Clinton is just the Senator to walk point on this issue of dismissing U.S. attorneys because she has direct personal experience. In any Congressional probe of the matter, we’d suggest she call herself as the first witness – and bring along Webster Hubbell as her chief counsel.

As everyone once knew but has tried to forget, Mr. Hubbell was a former partner of Mrs. Clinton at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock who later went to jail for mail fraud and tax evasion. He was also Bill and Hillary Clinton’s choice as Associate Attorney General in the Justice Department when Janet Reno, his nominal superior, simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno – or Mr. Hubbell – gave them 10 days to move out of their offices.

At the time, President Clinton presented the move as something perfectly ordinary: “All those people are routinely replaced,” he told reporters, “and I have not done anything differently.” In fact, the dismissals were unprecedented: Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired. This allowed continuity of leadership within the U.S. Attorney offices during the transition.

Equally extraordinary were the politics at play in the firings. At the time, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in Chicago, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was “within 30 days” of making a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was shepherding the Clinton’s economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by Mr. Clinton.

Also at the time, allegations concerning some of the Clintons’ Whitewater dealings were coming to a head. By dismissing all 93 U.S. Attorneys at once, the Clintons conveniently cleared the decks to appoint “Friend of Bill” Paula Casey as the U.S. Attorney for Little Rock. Ms. Casey never did bring any big Whitewater indictments, and she rejected information from another FOB, David Hale, on the business practices of the Arkansas elite including Mr. Clinton. When it comes to “politicizing” Justice, in short, the Bush White House is full of amateurs compared to the Clintons.

And it may be this very amateurism that explains how the current Administration has managed to turn this routine issue of replacing Presidential appointees into a political fiasco. There was nothing wrong with replacing the eight Attorneys, all of whom serve at the President’s pleasure. Prosecutors deserve supervision like any other executive branch appointees.

The supposed scandal this week is that Mr. Bush had been informed last fall that some U.S. Attorneys had been less than vigorous in pursuing voter-fraud cases and that the President had made the point to Attorney General Albert Gonzales. Voter fraud strikes at the heart of democratic institutions, and it was entirely appropriate for Mr. Bush – or any President – to insist that his appointees act energetically against it.

Take sacked U.S. Attorney John McKay from Washington state. In 2004, the Governor’s race was decided in favor of Democrat Christine Gregoire by 129-votes on a third recount. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other media outlets reported, some of the “voters” were deceased, others were registered in storage-rental facilities, and still others were convicted felons. More than 100 ballots were “discovered” in a Seattle warehouse. None of this constitutes proof that the election was stolen. But it should have been enough to prompt Mr. McKay, a Democrat, to investigate, something he declined to do, apparently on grounds that he had better things to do.

In New Mexico, another state in which recent elections have been decided by razor thin margins, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias did establish a voter fraud task force in 2004. But it lasted all of 10 weeks before closing its doors, despite evidence of irregularities by the likes of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn. As our John Fund reported at the time, Acorn’s director Matt Henderson refused to answer questions in court about whether his group had illegally made copies of voter registration cards in the run-up to the 2004 election.

As for some of the other fired Attorneys, at least one of their dismissals seemed to owe to differences with the Administration about the death penalty, another to questions about the Attorney’s managerial skills. Not surprisingly, the dismissed Attorneys are insisting their dismissals were unfair, and perhaps in some cases they were. It would not be the first time in history that a dismissed employee did not take kindly to his firing, nor would it be the first in which an employer sacked the wrong person.

No question, the Justice Department and White House have botched the handling of this issue from start to finish. But what we don’t have here is any serious evidence that the Administration has acted improperly or to protect some of its friends. If Democrats want to understand what a real abuse of power looks like, they can always ask the junior Senator from New York.[/i]

[quote]Cunnivore wrote:
It’s true. Gonzolez should have followed in the hallowed footsteps of Janet Reno, by firing ALL of the US Attorneys, and then replacing them all for NON-PARTISAN reasons. That would make it all ok. Maybe it’s not too late.[/quote]

Well, that certainly would have avoided the appearance that some US Attorneys are being singled out for political reasons, wouldn’t it?

In any case, Gonzales apparently perjured himself in his sworn statements to Congress. His testimony contradicts the emails that the White House turned over to the Senate Judicial Committee.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
The WSJ had a good editorial yesterday
No question, the Justice Department and White House have botched the handling of this issue from start to finish. But what we don’t have here is any serious evidence that the Administration has acted improperly or to protect some of its friends. If Democrats want to understand what a real abuse of power looks like, they can always ask the junior Senator from New York.[/quote]

That’s neither here nor there. What happened under Clinton doesn’t factor into whether Gonzales perjured himself or not. Gonzales didn’t just “botch the handling” he apparently lied while under oath.

Look, I know you guys don’t think obstruction of justice or lying under oath is a big deal (as in the Libby case). But when the Attorney General commits perjury, it’s kind of hard to dance around that. Keep trying though.

Gonzales is really doing a heckuva job otherwise, eh? Maybe he can be promoted to the Supreme Court, LOL. He’s not a legal powerhouse like Harriet Miers, but still he would be a wonderful asset, huh?

LOL.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:

That’s neither here nor there. What happened under Clinton doesn’t factor into whether Gonzales perjured himself or not. Gonzales didn’t just “botch the handling” he apparently lied while under oath.

Look, I know you guys don’t think obstruction of justice or lying under oath is a big deal (as in the Libby case). But when the Attorney General commits perjury, it’s kind of hard to dance around that. Keep trying though.

Gonzales is really doing a heckuva job otherwise, eh? Maybe he can be promoted to the Supreme Court, LOL. He’s not a legal powerhouse like Harriet Miers, but still he would be a wonderful asset, huh?

LOL.

[/quote]

Aside from a few fringe nut-rooters, I haven’t heard or read anyone allege Gonzalez perjured himself. You do realize there is a difference between perjuring yourself and making a mistaken statement, right?

Gonzalez would never have been my first choice for the USSC – too much pandering to the race-quota crowd, and Gonzalez isn’t as good a candidate as quite a few other jurists. However, he did serve on the Texas Supreme Court, and is much better credentialed that Miers.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Aside from a few fringe nut-rooters, I haven’t heard or read anyone allege Gonzalez perjured himself. You do realize there is a difference between perjuring yourself and making a mistaken statement, right?[/quote]

[i]?I think I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.?

“And so let me publicly sort of preempt perhaps a question you?re going to ask me, and that is: I am fully committed, as the administration?s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.”[/i]

Oh, seems like a mistaken statement to me, too. Just a mischaracterization, that’s all. The words “never, ever” and “fully committed” and “every position” make that perfectly clear.

By the way, this wouldn’t be the first time Gonzales has allegedly perjured himself:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/30/AR2006013001318.html?sub=AR

Anyway, it’s not up to you or me to decide whether Gonzales lied or not. Now that Republicans can’t stonewall investigations, all these people will have a chance to appear before the Senate Judicial Committee to explain themselves. Whether their previous sworn testimony will jibe with the evidence the White House has submitted, remains to be seen.

You didn’t answer the question… How much longer do you think the Attorney General can keep his job?

[quote]Brad61 wrote:

[i]?I think I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.?

“And so let me publicly sort of preempt perhaps a question you?re going to ask me, and that is: I am fully committed, as the administration?s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.”[/i][/quote]

Ummm – and how, again, does this mean he perjured himself, when the emails that allegedly show this were not from Gonzalez but from his chief of staff, who has resigned over this issue, or from other people not named Alberto Gonzalez?

There’s a reason you don’t have anyone of substance making such an accusation…

[quote]Brad61 wrote:
Oh, seems like a mistaken statement to me, too. Just a mischaracterization, that’s all. The words “never, ever” and “fully committed” and “every position” make that perfectly clear.

By the way, this wouldn’t be the first time Gonzales has allegedly perjured himself:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/30/AR2006013001318.html?sub=AR
[/quote]

Allegedly. As if anyone with any credibility whatsoever was making the allegation… What a joke.

An even funnier joke is that your linked story doesn’t make any allegation of perjury.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:
Anyway, it’s not up to you or me to decide whether Gonzales lied or not. Now that Republicans can’t stonewall investigations, all these people will have a chance to appear before the Senate Judicial Committee to explain themselves. Whether their previous sworn testimony will jibe with the evidence the White House has submitted, remains to be seen.

You didn’t answer the question… How much longer do you think the Attorney General can keep his job?

[/quote]

He’ll keep it as long as the President wants him to keep it – unless he gets tired of the political side of the job and resigns. His demeanor/constitution isn’t really that of a political infighter.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:
Cunnivore wrote:
It’s true. Gonzolez should have followed in the hallowed footsteps of Janet Reno, by firing ALL of the US Attorneys, and then replacing them all for NON-PARTISAN reasons. That would make it all ok. Maybe it’s not too late.

Well, that certainly would have avoided the appearance that some US Attorneys are being singled out for political reasons, wouldn’t it?

In any case, Gonzales apparently perjured himself in his sworn statements to Congress. His testimony contradicts the emails that the White House turned over to the Senate Judicial Committee.[/quote]

NPR was reporting this morning that no one has ever fired more than one at a time before. I wanted to throw my radio out the window.

[quote]Brad61 wrote:

Oh, seems like a mistaken statement to me, too. Just a mischaracterization, that’s all. The words “never, ever” and “fully committed” and “every position” make that perfectly clear.

[/quote]

BTW, let me clarify something for you: perjury de facto requires a false statement about a fact, i.e. “Did you have sexual relations with that woman?” The answer to that would be a fact, as the question concerned an event that already occurred, and is thus provably true or false.

A statement such as “I think I would never do something in the future” would never be the subject of a perjury allegation.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
An even funnier joke is that your linked story doesn’t make any allegation of perjury.[/quote]

You know, you are right. I’ve been confusing perjury (lying under oath), with contempt of Congress… which is a felony.

So is there even one single Republican in all of Congress who will speak out in Gonzales’ defense? Doesn’t look like it, so far. That’s really sad!

Why the silence from the GOP’s side of the aisle? All you Ann Coulter Republicans should call your Republican congressmen and ask them to step forward in Gonzales’ defense. I’d say someone would have to be rabidly partisan to condone or defend the administration’s attempt to politicize the Justice Department. But it doesn’t look like anyone in Congress is that blatantly freaky. I gotta say that I’m surprised, but it’s still early. Light up those phones, you freaks!

Free Alberto Gonzales!

I think the reason is that Gonzalez doesn’t have a constituency other than the President - Gonzalez is another connection from his Texas days.

Combine that with the impression that he keeps shooting himself in the foot as this progresses, and there’s not much for people to say. No one is charging perjury or contempt of Congress, in spite of your fevered wishes.

People know he can’t be forced to resign based on this tempest in a teapot, so there doesn’t appear to be any necessity to defend Gonzalez - and I think there is a perception that it’s all so vacuous that it will go away on it’s own accord shortly.

This whole “controversy” solely is about the fight.

Now, if it progressed, conservatives/Republicans, no matter what they think of Gonzales’s performance, would step up - it would be a travesty to allow him to be forced out because the opposition has turned this fiasco into a referendum on abuse of presidential power.

As there has been absolutely no abuse (U.S. attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the chief executive), they shouldn’t be allowed to win - which makes it all the more ridiculous that Gonzales, if it would make the problem go away, seems only too eager to surrender an important executive prerogative, namely, the authority of the president, rather than the court, to appoint interim U.S. attorneys pending Senatorial confirmation.

Hopefully it will go away, because it would be quite annoying to find yourself in the position of defending a guy who wouldn’t have the job but for his closeness to the president and whose story, to explain testimony now acknowledged to be inaccurate, is that he didn’t know what was going on between his own chief-of-staff and the White House counsel.

Congress whipped up this nonsense - the proper political use of a political power that the last Democratic president and Democratic Justice Department used systematically and remorselessly.

To the extent it becomes necessary, Gonzales will rate being defended strictly because it would be a disgrace if he lost his job over this manufactured scandal. But no one should be shocked that there isn’t exactly a rush to defend the sitting AG.

The Clintons fired the 93 prosecuters so they could fire the dude who was investigating Whitewater…also the dude who was investigating Dan Rostenkowski. It was a good cover-up.

Both Clintons should be put on trial and locked in a deep hole together, to drive each other nuts.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
The Clintons fired the 93 prosecuters so they could fire the dude who was investigating Whitewater…also the dude who was investigating Dan Rostenkowski. It was a good cover-up.

Both Clintons should be put on trial and locked in a deep hole together, to drive each other nuts.[/quote]

It’s kind of nice to see you posting about the Clinton’s, because we all know, if they did something wrong, then that’s a free pass for republicans in general, isn’t it?

Guys, some of you need to stop looking at this as an “us vs them” style thing. I know a two party system encourages that, but you need to hold the feet of your own party to the fire and demand better conduct.

If and when the dems are back in power, the same will be true there as well.

This is very funny. Why is this an issue with Bush when it wasn’t an issue when Clinton had Attorney General Janet Reno fire 93 US Attorneys, from the previous administration, in 1993?

It’s all politics. Both sides do this and it just shows the media bias when they jump on Bush for it but said nothing when Clinton did it.

[quote]vroom wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
The Clintons fired the 93 prosecuters so they could fire the dude who was investigating Whitewater…also the dude who was investigating Dan Rostenkowski. It was a good cover-up.

Both Clintons should be put on trial and locked in a deep hole together, to drive each other nuts.

It’s kind of nice to see you posting about the Clinton’s, because we all know, if they did something wrong, then that’s a free pass for republicans in general, isn’t it?

Guys, some of you need to stop looking at this as an “us vs them” style thing. I know a two party system encourages that, but you need to hold the feet of your own party to the fire and demand better conduct.

If and when the dems are back in power, the same will be true there as well.[/quote]

That is good advice, but the media in this country does not allow this to happen. And from a publicity standpoint, it is not a level playing field.

So it is really had to hold the Republicans to a standard that the media gives the Dem’s a pass on every time.

[quote]Lorisco wrote:
…That is good advice, but the media in this country does not allow this to happen. And from a publicity standpoint, it is not a level playing field.

So it is really had to hold the Republicans to a standard that the media gives the Dem’s a pass on every time.
[/quote]

Exactly. The media coverage of this is infuriating. They have been saying it is unprecedented when the last president did far worse.

[quote]Lorisco wrote:
This is very funny. Why is this an issue with Bush when it wasn’t an issue when Clinton had Attorney General Janet Reno fire 93 US Attorneys, from the previous administration, in 1993? [/quote]

Because Clinton didn’t single out and fire specific prosectors who weren’t doing his political bidding. That’s the allegation here… targeting the prosecutors who were viewed as ‘too tough going after Republicans’ or ‘too weak going after Democrats’. That’s what would make the firings toxic… because it means Gonzales is using the Justice Department as an party enforcement apparatus to keep Republicans in line.

2ndly, Arlen Specter or one of his staffers snuck a provision into the Patriot Act renewal that says that new prosecutor nominations do not require Senate confirmation. So this gives Bush unprecedented power to appoint prosecutors without the usual oversight. That is also different.

Thirdly, there are contradictions between Gonzales’ testimony before the Senate committee, and documents that the White House has submitted. So that’s also different than what happened under Clinton.

Hope that helped…