Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

He's really quite ridiculous

Transcripts of today's 'Gonzo grill' in the Senate are truly mesmerizing. I am amazed that the Senate still hasn't tossed the liar in a jail cell for contempt.

How much more of this can they take?

The man obviously cannot be embarrassed into telling the truth. He appears to know that nothing will be done no matter what he says. And yet... and yet... we get this:

Specter: How can you get approval from sedated Ashcroft?

Gonzales: Can I continue?

Specter: No, answer my question.

Gonzales: Obviously there was concern about Ashcroft's condition. There are no rules governing when Ashcroft decides he is well enough.

Specter: He had given us AG duties.

Gonzales: We knew he was ill...

Specter: Not making progress. Moving on. Do you think constitution govt can survive if Pres has unilateral authority to reject congress inquiries for Exec Privilege and prevent prosecution of claim?

Gonzales: Ongoing matter, I am recused, I cannot answer.

Specter: I am asking about constitutional law.

Gonzales: You are talking about an on-going issue.

Specter: No. Answer.

Gonzales: I won't answer - it is ongoing controversy and I am recused.

Leahy: Calls for decorum (room is protesting).

Specter: Won't pursue. This is hopeless. You are not just AG, you are a lawyer. This is a fundamental issues separate from USA resignations. Other subject. Do you have a conflict regarding the firing of US AGs?

Gonzales: Yes.

Specter: Do you have a conflict of interest about Miers?

Gonzales: Yes. I won't answer.

Specter: Let's find one you will answer. How about death penalty case? Charlton contacted your office and said case was not appropriate for dp. Testimony that AG spent 5-10 minutes on the issue...is this accurate?

Gonzales: I have no specific recollection of this case. But we have a detailed process for capital case review.

Specter: I am not interested in that. I want an answer to my question. You don't remember a case regarding a man's execution?

Gonzales: I have no recollection of the conversation.

Specter: Do you disagree with the testimony?

Gonzales: I can't agree or disagree.
He can't agree or disagree? Huh?

It gets even more ridiculous:

Schumer: I'll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because you're getting right close to the edge right here. You just said there was just one program -- just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesn't directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.

Gonzales: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.

Schumer: What did you say to the reporter?

Gonzales: I did not speak directly to the reporter.

Schumer: Oh, wait a second -- you did not.


OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?

Gonzales: I don't know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement...

Schumer: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect -- and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman -- in all due respect, you're just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don't even know what he said. You don't even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you're bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don't even know. I'll give you another chance: You're hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You're now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?

Gonzales: I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you.

Pundits are losing their minds trying to find a way to spin this, or even simply cover it. I just laugh, shake my head... and wonder if maybe this time - this time - they will disbar him.

Is all of this for show? If so, it is a good one. An 'American Idol' for political pundits. Or perhaps the 'Gonzo Gong Show.'

Andrew Cohen from the Washington Post seems almost speechless with contempt:

Forget about the politicization of the Justice Department. Forget about the falling morale there. Forget about the rise in violent crime in some of our biggest cities. Forget about the events leading up to the U.S. Attorney scandal and the way he has handled the prosecutor purge since. Forget about the Department's role in allowing warrantless domestic surveillance. Forget about the contorted and contradictory accounts he's offered before in his own defense.

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales deserves to be fired for his testimony Tuesday alone; for morphing into Jon Lovitz's famous "pathological liar" character (or maybe just one of the Marx Brothers) as he tried to dodge and duck responsibility before the Senate Judiciary Committee not just for his shameful leadership at Justice but also his shameless role in visiting an ailing John Ashcroft in the hospital to try to strong-arm him into renewing the warrantless surviellance program. Can anyone out there remember a worse, less-inspiring, less confidence-inducing performance on Capitol Hill? I cannot.

Neither can Gonzo. In fact, he couldn't remember much of anything today.

The most amazing thing (I think) to come out of today's testimony is proof that Cheney has been granted authority parallel with the President when it comes to intervening on pending matters at the Justice Department.

Now it's all starting to make sense, eh?

According to RAW STORY:

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questioned the Attorney General about the independence of the Justice Department and communications with the White House on pending cases or investigations.

He then pointed to a May 4, 2006 memorandum signed by Gonzales which showed that the Office of the Vice President had been granted parallel privileges with the Executive Office of the President on communicating directly with the Justice Department's staff on criminal and civil matters.

"What - on earth - business does the Office of the Vice President have in the internal workings of the Department of Justice with respect to criminal investigations, civil investigations, and ongoing matters?" the Senator asked.

Gonzales was stumped, "As a general matter, I would say that's a good question."

Whitehouse then pointed out that in the same memo, the Chief of Staff and Counsel of the Vice President were also explicitly granted the same authority.

"On its face - I must say - sitting here, I'm troubled by this," Gonzales added.


Whitehouse got the drop on the White House today - he came prepared. Here is a snip of the now famous memo that Gonzo can't recall ever seeing, or signing:

Catchy, huh?

Whitehouse went on to compare the Gonzales memo to the 'Ashcroft memo,' which allowed various members of the President's staff to communicate with the Justice Department. He then compared both memos with a letter written by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1994, which placed specific limitations on communications about pending cases to conversations between the White House Counsel or Deputy Counsel, the President or Vice President, and Attorney General or Deputy or Associate Attorney General. Not scores of miscellaneous staffers.

In other words... there was once a line between the judicial and the executive. I wonder, has that line now been irreparably blurred?

And now the kicker! From RAW STORY again:

In addition to granting the staff of the Office of the Vice President the ability to communicate with the Justice Department on civil and criminal matters, Gonzales' May 2006 memo gave Cheney's staff the ability to raise another issue with the Justice Department: 'Presidential Clemency Matters.'

Whether or not Cheney's office has intervened in discussions relating to presidential clemency has been of interest to Congress in recent weeks.

Before the White House commuted the sentence of former Cheney Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) of the House Judiciary Committee asked Cheney to recuse himself from internal White House deliberations on the subject.

White House spokesman Tony Snow did not rule out Cheney's engagement in the discussions on Libby when he discussed Bush's decision earlier in the month.

For once... no Snowjob?

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