Saturday, April 21, 2007

Question for Gonzales; Who decided? Does anyone know?

Gonzales' answer; It was consensus, aggregated by Kyle Sampson and approved by me. I was responsible.

As I wrote previously, what Gonzales established clearly in his Senate testimony was that he couldn't effectively manage a dog fight, let alone the Department of Justice with over 100,000 employees. Dahlia Lithwick at Slate very neatly describes what
Gonzales told the Senate:
The other unfortunate trope of the morning is the attorney general's incessant invocation of the "consensus judgment of the senior leadership" and the "collective concerns of the senior leadership" as the basis for all these U.S. attorney firings. Every time he's asked who made the ultimate decision here, Gonzales trots back to the fuzzy gray oracle of "senior leadership." That fits almost perfectly with Kyle Sampson's repeated claim last month that he never made a decision; he was merely the "aggregator" of everyone else's recommendations and say-sos. How gloriously mechanical: The "consensus judgments of the senior leadership" are fed to the "aggregator," who in turn passes them along to the AG who, as he claims, made a final decision without reviewing any criteria for the firing or any written document. It seems that at no point in this "process" or "project" did any human brain fire an actual neuron that triggered the message to terminate an actual U.S. attorney. Sen. Dianne Feinstein picks up on this theme toward the end of the day when she notes, "We still don't know who selected the individuals on that list. Somebody had to. A human being had to." [Emphasis is mine - Editor.]
The short version: When asked who made the decision to fire each U.S. attorney, Gonzales replied "It was a consensus decision of all of us." Then when asked if he would resign, Gonzales replied: "No. I have a lot more that I am working on that needs to be finished."

The only decision he has made for which responsibility can clearly be assigned to him is to use a political consensus decision-making process that makes no one except the top manager responsible. It also means that he does not and cannot know the criteria or the details of the decisions being made, so he denies blame for the bad decisions. He takes responsibility for the decisions to fire the U.S. Attorneys, but he can't be blamed for those decisions. They were consensus decisions.

Message to Alberto: Sorry Fredo. It doesn't work that way. You are responsible for what you failed to do as well as what (if anything) you intended to do or think you did. You established the process of consensus decisions. If they were bad decisions, you are directly responsible for them. That's true even if you are unaware that the decisions were being made and don't know who made them.

So Alberto (Fredo) Gonzales succeeded very clearly in establishing his own incompetence and unfitness to hold the job of U.S. Attorney General. The one other thing he succeeded at was totally avoiding any discussion of the role of the White House in the mess he has made of the Department of Justice. (Gee. Maybe he deserves the "Medal of Freedom." Like Tenet, Franks and Bremer, Gonzales hasn't blamed failures at and guidance from the White House for the problems he faced either.)

Senator Whitehouse stepped into this latter void, and presented his chart of who at the White House is allowed to make direct contact with the Department of Justice and inquire about on-going cases. Ms. Lithwick reproduces the chart at the end of her column.

Since the Bush White House permits 417 individuals to directly contact individuals in the DoJ, as opposed to four in the Clinton White House, it looks like the Bush administration isn't able to tell who to hold responsible for specific decisions either.

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