Fish Stinks From The Head

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The day after Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ empty “testimony� before the Senate Judiciary Committee, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stated that “By his actions and with his testimony yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez has lost the trust of the American people.� Should a man who authored the “Torture Memo� and called the Geneva Conventions “quaint� have ever been given that trust in the first place?
Pelosi’s sentiments were echoed by several senators and some Republican heavyweights. “He did not distinguish himself� stated House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam, who said there was a need for “fresh leadership.� Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma told Gonzalez: “The best way to put this behind us is your resignation.�
However, Gonzalez continues to resist that request claiming that “at the end of the day, I know I did not do anything improper� defending his firings of eight attorneys at the heart of the controversy and his subsequent lies. It was clear that Gonzalez was not there to tell any truth about the firings or any of the insidious, inner-workings of the “presidency� he represents.
His testimony showed a deliberate attempt to cover-up the truth of why these U.S. Attorneys were really fired. Time and again he wouldn’t answer specific questions and repeatedly used the classic Iran-Contra line: “I don’t recall.� By that measure alone, why should he be the nation’s top law enforcement official if he can’t remember anything? One person keeping count said the Attorney General used variations of this line over 100 times.
Gonzalez’s avoidance of truth telling was clearly meant to impede the efforts of the committee. Republican Senator Charles Grassley said: “We don’t have a straight story on what transpired and whether the motivations for what happened were pure.� Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina called Gonzalez’s answers “a stretch.� Senator Arlen Specter told Gonzalez: “I think your credibility has been significantly impaired because of the panorama of responses you have made.�
Gonzalez’s claims that the firings were “performance related� lacked credibility since he couldn’t give any specifics for the dismissals. If he did nothing wrong, as he claims, then why the apology to the attorneys’ families saying “they deserve better from me and the Department of Justice which they serve for many years.� This is a curious comment if he feels his actions were justified. 
The dirty truth is the US Attorneys’ purge was clearly politically motivated and directed toward those who weren’t walking lock-step in the “Unitary Executive� dictatorial mindset that is the mode of this Administration, where “signing statements� are used to thwart and nullify democratic checks and balances. Under this radical theory, the president is given unlimited power and is unfettered by the balance of a strong Congress. In layman’s terms it gives the president unchecked powers like that of a king. After all Bush has already told the nation that he is the “decider.�
Gonzalez insinuated frequently that his former aide, Kyle Sampson, was the guilty party who knows all the intimate details of the purge. Yet Sampson in his testimony contradicted Gonzalez’s earlier assertions that he had only a “limited� role in the dismissals. Sampson cited at least five meetings where Gonzalez appeared. Sampson also said that the Attorney General attended a November 27, 2006 meeting, and that 10 days later seven of the eight US Attorneys were pushed out. He singled out two aides of Karl Rove, Scott Jennings and Sara Taylor as being involved in this systematic purge. And one of these Taylor/Rove top assistant who is slated to step down was said to have sought the resignation of the Arkansas U.S. Attorney.
Sampson further acknowledged that during one meeting attended by Rove, deputy White House counsel William Kelley, and short-lived Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, the name of the Scooter Libby prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, was mentioned as a possible target for the political guillotine. Moreover, the decision by former Justice Department liaison to the White House Monica Goodling to plead the “fifth� and avoid testifying is in itself an indicator that underhand motives were definitely at work here.
The scheme to fire these US Attorneys was doubtless drawn up out of the playbook of Karl Rove. One displaced US Attorney was replaced by a former aide to Rove. The motive for these firings was to train these prosecutors to engage in partisan prosecutions of Democratic candidates while insulating Republicans like disgraced pedophile Mark Foley. The mission was to offset voter disillusionment with this Republican presidency, their cronies on Capitol Hill, and the ongoing disaster in Iraq.
We are now told that some five million e-mails sent by Karl Rove have disappeared into thin air. Isn’t this the equivalent of evidence shredding like what transpired in Iran Contra? Yet, e-mails can’t completely disappear: Rove may yet have to answer serious charges.
Ironically, Republican Senator John Cornyn said of Gonzalez, “throwing him overboard will not change anything.� He is right. This entire corrupt White House deserves to go.

Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News's Editorial Board.

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