Years From Now, Historians Will Look Back At This Administration...And Consider Burning All Records Of Its Existence.
The Alberto Gonzales skid-mark of a tenure as Attorney General has been pretty well-covered by folks all around the reality-based end of the blogosphere. In fact, it's been what's driving the pursuit of this sordid bunch of stories—far better than the so-called digging on the part of print and broadcast journalists still "locked on lazy".
We even covered it at "Ye Olde News Blog” when this exploding cigar of a scandal first blew up in Bush's and 'Berto's faces a few months back—and had this to say about it:
"Simple question--right here and now. Why would an administration, its Attorney General, and involved partisan elected officials repeatedly lie about their involvement in something that they claim to be LEGAL AND ABOVE BOARD?
People lie for one of two reasons.
1.) To cover up a misdeed--an illegal or unethical act.
2.) Because they are compulsive untruth-tellers who prevaricate about pretty much everything for little or no reason.
Neither of these reasons serves this administration well. The latter one indicates that they can be trusted on nothing, and the former one--the supremely prevalent one in general practice indicates serious, and damning illegality. They lied. Before Congress. Under oath. About circumventing the Constitution of the United States. Slaving the judicial branch--law enforcement, to the whims of the political needs of the executive branch. Somewhere in hell--probbly the boiler room, Pinochet, Marcos and Nixon are all smiling sweaty, proud "attaboy" smiles at this justice-poisoning news."
(Editor's Note: I can't front...I don't generally fall in love with graphics I come up with, but I LOVED lookin' at that one again! "Chortle!")
Which seems all the more apt now, as 'Berto's troubles' secondary prong—his differing statements about his involvement in the administration's wireless wiretapping scandal have come a' cropper.
"Come a' cropper" is nice folk-speak for, "caught lying his fucking ass off under oath." Jaws dropped all over the place, over his damning-as-all-hell "testimony" before Congress last week.
'In explaining why he and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card made a dramatic visit to the hospital bedside of a seriously ill Attorney General John Ashcroft, Gonzales points to a key meeting earlier that same day, March 10, 2004.
At that meeting, according to Gonzales, the bipartisan group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight, which oversees the most sensitive aspects of the intelligence community, demanded that a top secret surveillance program (widely believed to be the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program) be continued despite the refusal of the Department of Justice to sign off on the legality of the program.
But tonight Democratic leaders who were at that meeting dispute Gonzales' version of events. Spencer Ackerman is reporting that Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi at the time the Democratic minority leaders in the Senate and House respectively, dispute Gonzales' account. The Washington Post is likewise reporting that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, strongly takes issue with Gonzales' version of events.
Why would an embattled attorney general whose credibility is in tatters spin a version of events that others are in a position to debunk?'
That's a rhetorical "why" that TPM asks. They later give pretty much the skinny on it, brandishing the word that D.C. folks would sooner eat brine-soaked glass than let pass their lips.
Ooooooh! Clutch the pearls, bitches—I do believe we feel a bout of them ol' vapors comin' on!
We already know he's been lying like a DUI-busted Lindsay Lohan about his level of involvement in the firing of the U.S. Attorneys, but he's been able to hide behind the skirts, odd bangs, squeaky voices and jowls of underlings he's sacrificed in his stead. This nightmare, over the outright lying about the NSA scandal, goes even further—deeper actually, as it goes to the ash-heaping of one of the most fundamental rights we as Americans hold dear. The right to privacy. A laughably ironic one when you consider the AG's boss's claiming of the ultimate privacy right—"Executive Privilege" in the other prong of DOJ scandal, no?
He sat there, Gonzales did—and said that his creepy hospital visit to a Percoset cloud-dancing Ashcroft was about one thing—an alternate domestic spying program that we're not privy to, and claimed a shit-load of other people were briefed about it. Only to have those people ALL deny it, citing a different briefing date and topic of discussion—namely the one he initially denied under oath. The 'nad-kick was when FBI Chief Robert Mueller also contradicted "Seedy Gonzales" testimony—directly. Proven again, this time as a naked, stupid, bald-faced liar.
D.C.'s full of liars though. Sub shops, grimy Lotto joints, and liars—D.C. in a rat-nibbled nutshell. But it seems that all the other liars in town are so much better at lying than 'Berto is. Slicker...more accomplished at least. Halfway able to get close to "putting it over". Gonzales is that rarest of things in Beltway ciecles—a bad liar. A horrific one, at that. Incompetence and toadyism be damned; those are sadly, part and parcel of the Washington insider's game—but to be the sort of prevaricator whose words can be utterly disproven before the end of a news day, to where they are outright criminal? Well...that Ladies and Gentlemen, is a singularly destructive talent—or lack thereof.
But what makes 'Berto's folly soooooooo awful is it's poisonous leaching into things beyond just him, the person. We have seen, in the last 35 years, the office of the Attorney General get twisted around in some bad ways. We have seen the people in the office be little more than near-criminal hatchet-men and trail coverers. We have seen them reviled and heard their names invoked as evil incarnate, when their backing of an act or bill has displeased an "activated" portion of the populace. But by God, in spite of the worst that a John Mitchell might have done, (and please note what he was convicted of and did 19 months in the clink over) or the wild, and outrageous slings and arrows that buffeted a Janet Reno, this Attorney General, Mr. Gonzales, will go down in history as without a doubt, the most ethically damaged AG in U.S. history. He embarrassed himself publicly with the kind of fumbling, shifty, and on-the-fly lying that would make even a Stephen Glass blush, while covering for Constitution-trashing, illegal wiretapping. He wrapped uninvolved others—others who with but a word could expose him—in a badly-woven net of lies and dodges to protect himself and an equally sullied President. He has clearly perjured himself, and obstructed justice via his wavering lies.
But once you add to that, the scandal of the fired U.S. Attorneys, where even more lies were piled, you get a full look at the grotesque, hall-length mural that is the total trashing of the Office of the Attorney General...and, the laying to waste of the Justice Department itself. Fox News this past weekend unbelievably could not get a GOP panelist to come on-air to defend Gonzales. Host Chris Wallace actually said:
"By the way, we invited White House officials and Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to defend Attorney General Gonzales. We had no takers."
The office of the so-called highest-ranking law enforcement official in the land has been turned into a fucking joke. Janet Reno's going on SNL to break through a wall and dance a weird Frug with Will Ferrell left herself with several times more gravitas than Gonzales has today. Can one even cite scholarship in "the law" as something to hang a hat on for him? His lame inability to even parse words well to make a convincing argument when under fire, speaks far less-than-well for the possibility of hidden, great talent as a barrister. The mass resignations of high-ranking Justice Department deputies to shield him, and the awful "rotating of stock" in the department—filling every nook and available cranny with Christofascist toadies who care not for law, but rather, how to apply the law to further the goals of their faux-holy, retrograde, party-first bosses— has so damaged it, that it's a barely functioning arm of the federal government right now. Where the Justice Department was once a place where in spite of who ran it, you could reasonably count on many of the country's best and brightest legal minds finding a place there to flourish, and enforce the laws of the land in a fairly egalitarian manner, we now find it converted mostly into a farm of partisan pods. Pods planted like mad by this administration, that sprout the likes of the Bradley Schlozmans, Monica Goodlings and Rachel Pauloses we now find ourselves bedeviled with in this short six years or so.
That's right...it's The Invasion Of The Justice Snatchers. —which would explain that disturbing, reedy whine of Schlozman's quite frankly.
The Attorney General's office and Justice Department have been rendered un-inhabitable right now. Pretty much unusable, in fact. That is the legacy of Alberto Gonzales. Something John Mitchell and his poisonous hyper-partisanship, and Janet Reno and her gaffes and targeting for hatred by her enemies could never do.
They never managed to wreck the office of the AG—nor did they come close to the crippling of the DOJ itself. Gonzales has...and then some. And it's going to take an awfully long time to restore integrity to the office, regardless of who the next person is (in the next administration, that is—if he were forced out now, which could happen, his immediate replacement would be little more than a seat-warmer) to take the job. It's going to take even longer to fumigate the DOJ itself. The equivalent of scores of "roach bombs" one would think, to de-infest what's presently in there...eating at the walls, and fouling the conducting of business—which is the enforcement of U.S. law—not the creepy Judge Roy Moore school of pick-n'-choose, moralistic bashing.
It's gonna take years to fix. And we can only hope that whoever the President is going to be, has enough stones, and patience—as well as the vision to pick the right person to repair it.
This... smashing of Justice.
Did you ever—EVER, think that you'd look back on John Ashcroft's hoary singing, backward ways, and yes...freaky aversion to breastage on federal statuary with a sense of laughing nostalgia?
Thanks for that, 'Berto. Seriously. Ha. Ha.