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May 17, 2007

Gonzales won't retract false statement on domestic spying

Alberto Gonzales is refusing to retract his sworn statement that there was no dissent in the Bush administration regarding domestic spying.

Here's a link to video of Comey's testimony. It's quite something. Comey's story reminds me of the hospital scene in The Godfather.

Comey explains how then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Bush chief of staff Andrew Card tried to take advantage of AG John Ashcroft while he was in the intensive care unit with acute pancreatitis. The spying program needed to be reauthorized before a strict deadline. Ashcroft had decided that he wasn't going to renew it. When he fell ill, Comey became acting AG. That didn't stop Gonzales and Card from barging into Ashcroft's hospital room and trying to strong-arm the sick man into signing the reauthorization. Ashcroft refused, saying that he didn't think the program was legal, but that didn't matter because Comey was the AG now.

Comey drafted a resignation letter shortly thereafter. "I believed that I couldn't stay if the Administration was going to engage in conduct that the Department of Justice said had no legal basis. I simply couldn't stay," Comey testified. Comey said Ashcroft's chief of staff begged him to stay on a few more days so that the AG could resign with him. Ashcroft didn't want to be "left behind" when Comey decamped.

Here's Ashcroft's hand-written resignation letter praising the president for his "clear and principled leadership." I wonder how it felt for Ashcroft to write those words, knowing that W. had personally dispatched his thugs to harass him in his ICU bed.

According to Comey's testimony, he wasn't the only person at the DOJ to resign over this showdown with the White House. Comey didn't say that Ashcroft resigned because of the domestic spying showdown in so many words, but that was clearly his implication. Why else would Ashcroft be so concerned about leaving at the same time as Comey?

Bonus Comey fun fact: The future DAG's senior thesis compared the liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and the conservative televangelist Jerry Falwell, emphasizing their shared belief in public action.

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Comments

Amazing. But then if Dubya can have me pining for the saner Nixon and Reagan years, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Gonzales can manage to cast John "Crisco Kid" Ashcroft as a hero. And to think I was outraged over Micky Mouse crap like draping the statuary at the DOJ. Wow.

Much as been made of a possible out Gonzales has on this matter. His testimony as given contained the caveat it pertained specifically to an unspecified intelligence program, by inference not necessarily the NSA wiretapping program. If he testified there wasn't controversy regarding this other program he likely wasn't perjuring himself. Comey gave vague conjecture the papers thrust under Ashcroft's nose in the hospital regarded the NSA issue. What if they didn't? What if there is some other program(s) in dispute? Congressional intelligence committees have their hands tied under penalty of illegal disclosure to discuss these issues in the open. Gonzales and Justice seem a little too sure of themselves to be risking a provable perjury rap. Either that or they know the nature of the lies can't be exposed without breaking the laws protecting their secrecy. Either way I think all this speculation Gonzales lied under oath may be factually in error.

Either that or they know the nature of the lies can't be exposed without breaking the laws protecting their secrecy. Either way I think all this speculation Gonzales lied under oath may be factually in error.

They know that and they also know that a phlegmatic, supine press won’t bother pursuing the matter very far, and that in any case, with the exception of a few of us disgruntled cranks, the public is more interested in their favorite “reality tv” program or Brittany Spears’ shockingly revealed cooter, or whatever.

Why choose? Britney's cooter or the Justice Dept scandal? Multi-task people, c'mon!

Ashcroft didn't want to be "left behind" when Comey decamped.

Ba-ZING!

Whether or not Gonzales committed perjury, the whole thing reeks. Putrid.

I'm trying really hard to come up with any words that wouldn't be rated R right now. Really really hard. Really really really hard. Nope, sorry.

I get the feeling that if our nation lasts another thousand years, that people then will still be able to look back down through the ages, down through history and they'll still say that Gonzales was the worst attorney general in the history of the world.

they'll still say that Gonzales was the worst attorney general in the history of the world.

I'd say he's neck and neck with Nixon's John Mitchell. Consider that John's treatment of his wife during the Watergate dust-up bequeathed us the psychiatric term: "Martha Mitchell effect".

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Gonzales can manage to cast John "Crisco Kid" Ashcroft as a hero. - cfrost

I seem to remember when Feingold (was it Feingold) voted to confirm Ashcroft, the word on the street was that Feingold did this because he felt that Ashcroft, as loony as he is, would actually put the brakes on Bush & CO's most frightening plans, and that whomever else Bush & CO would nominate would be worse (although perhaps less known, thus making their confirmation even easier -- or not voting to confirm more politically damaging to the Dems. who would be raked over the coals given that rejecting the Pres' nominees is very much an IOKIYAR sort of thing).

I guess it turns out Feingold was, as usual, right?

Useful timeline and analysis here:
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003242.php

One thing to remember is that the surveillance program had been in place for over two years before Comey became Deputy AG, took a really good look at it, and said "hey, wait a minute, this is illegal!" Up until then, Ashcroft was authorizing it every 45 days since its inception.

What the hell! This should be the top story in every media outlet in the country. I know the country is used to the continual stream of stories of corruption and incompetence coming out of this administration, but this testimony is truly extraordinary. The former (acting) attorney general just testified before Congress that he and the Justice department stated that the program was illegal, and the president continued the program anyway, without authorization from Justice. This is right up there with Watergate. Why the *!@ am I reading this story on someone's blog, and not as the headline of every newspaper in the country?

Err, not that it's not a very nice blog, Lindsay. But, still. . .

His testimony as given contained the caveat it pertained specifically to an unspecified intelligence program, by inference not necessarily the NSA wiretapping program.

That was indeed a potential out (although it would mean that there were not one but two illegal programmes for spying on Americans) until Bush was asked about the Comey testimony. Although he ducked the issue of whether he did place the call, his response made clear that it was the same programme.

For a good analysis of the Gonzales / NSA / Comey testimony story see Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com, Thursday, May 17, ’07.

If Bush can get away with this, he can get away with anything, and I think he will.

Flash foward two months to July and Gonzo is still stating the same BS, and now there are allegations that he has committed actual perjery on this matter in front of Congress. Is there anything that Congress can do about it? If it cannot get rid of Gonzo, how the hell can it impeach Bush? Is Congress just a paper tiger?

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