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

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mueller notes counteract Gonzo testimony

FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III handed over his notes pertaining to the Ashcroft bedside visit to the House Judiciary Commitee - and although they are highly redacted - meaning almost everything is crossed out - the items still visible are noteworthy.

For example... attendees at the meetings where the secret wiretapping program was discussed: the highest ranking official being... VP. I'm guessing we can be pretty sure who made that call. The question of the hour is whether Bush even knew many of the details of this program in the first place.

Mueller also backs up Comey's testimony that Ashcroft was in much worse shape than Gonzo admitted, and that Gonzo and Card were in fact badgering a very sick man.

From the Washington Post:

Mueller's description of Ashcroft's physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.

"Saw AG," Mueller writes in his notes for 8:10 p.m. on March 10, 2004, only minutes after Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had visited Ashcroft. "Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."

And of course... that Gonzo apparently lied under oath once again:

First thing to note. Mueller testified on July 26, contra Gonzales, that the legal dispute between Gonzales and Acting Attorney General Jim Comey that prompted the rush to Ashcroft's hospital room had to do with the program now known as the Terrorist Surveillance Program. (Gonzales insisted on July 24, as he had in testimony last year, that Comey objected to "other intelligence activities," not the TSP.) The surveillance program known as the TSP was but one component of a constellation of surveillance activities, even though Comey and others at the time of the March 2004 controversy considered the whole effort -- authorized under a single 2001 executive order -- to be a unitary enterprise. Now notice that all throughout Mueller's memo, he refers to "program" -- singular.

It is also almost unfathomable that Ashcroft - then the Attorney General - was kept mostly in the dark about the details of the program.

From TPMmuckracker:

According to FBI Director Robert Mueller's notes on the March 10, 2004 visit to Ashcroft's hospital room, Ashcroft told Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales that "strict compartmentalization rules" by the White House prevented him from "obtaining the advice he needed" about the warrantless surveillance program. At first glance, I thought that meant that Ashcroft himself was prevented from knowing certain aspects of the program. Several commenters read it differently, and judged that Ashcroft was complaining that his key advisers were barred from information about the program that would inform Ashcroft about its legality. And today, the Washington Post backs them up, citing anonymous official sources.

This, however, seems like two sides of the same coin. If Ashcroft couldn't consult with senior legal advisers about Program X, the White House was essentially keeping Ashcroft -- and the Justice Department -- in the dark about the legal basis for the surveillance program, expecting him to simply bless the effort without asking too many questions. After all, Ashcroft's tenure showed a consistent deference to presidential prerogative -- most notably, when he warned the Senate about the Patriot Act that "those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists." If Ashcroft couldn't vet the program with his legal advisers, it's an open question about what he really "knew" about its legality. Sure enough, as soon as the program was opened to Ashcroft's deputy, Jim Comey, a longtime U.S. attorney and Justice official, Comey saw a program riddled with legal problems.

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