Thursday, May 10, 2007

What Alberto Gonzales has to deal with in testimony today

Josh Marshall brings together a lot of recent news about how many U.S. Attorneys have actually been fired by the Department of Justice (DoJ) and what the DoJ has told various people (especially the effected Senators) about the firings. The overall pattern shows that the DoJ has been presenting a coordinated set of lies, and continues to be both lying and hiding the truth. The scope of the lies and evasions is only just now coming into focus.

Josh first points out TPM Muckraker’s scoop on the firing of Kansas City U.S. Attorney Todd Graves. Sen. Kit Bond (R – MO) was told he was fired for "performance" reasons but told Graves himself that they merely wanted to give someone else the job. [Note: This is the same thing they told Arkansas U.S. Attorney Cummings when they replaced him, but evidence is coming out that Cummings was more likely fired because his investigation of the Republican Missouri Governor was getting too close to criminal action.] In an excellent editorial published May 10, 2007, the New York Times says "From the facts available, it looks like a main reason for installing Mr. Schlozman was to help Republicans win a pivotal Missouri Senate race.

Josh Marshall then summarizes what we know and what it means:
Now there are reports on the story from WaPo and the Post-Dispatch. Beyond the details of Graves' ouster and replacement by Bradley Schlozman, which we've been discussing for several days, there are two key points to focus on here. The first is that the congressional investigation has been going on for some three months. And the Department of Justice has repeated stated that eight US Attorneys were fired. That was clearly false. And there's a second point. We now know of several cases in which US Attorneys appeared on DOJ firing lists and then by supposed coincidence just happened to resign. The Graves revelation now puts the weight of evidence strongly in the favor of the conclusion that few if any of these resignations were unforced. No proof yet. But that has to be the assumption.

And there's one more point with respect to tomorrow's testimony by Attorney General Gonzales. There's been a lot of back and forth and speculation about all the faulty memories, the fact that virtually every senior official at DOJ has denied any role in actually choosing the names on the firing list and all the various claims of privilege. At the risk of stating the obvious, this is all of a piece. For three months the White House and the clique around Attorney General Gonzales have been involved in a concerted effort to cover up what happened here. And the intensity of the effort points to how bad the real story is. This has been obvious to anyone who has been following this story closely since January. But the fact that the DOJ has been collectively lying about the number of fired US Attorneys for all these months just confirms how true it is. Consider this: with all the document dumps, no emails or documents relating to Graves' firing? How can that be? The truth is that we still know very little about what happened here. Very little.
As of right now, no one in the Department of Justice will take credit for placing the names of U.S. Attorneys to be fired on the list that Kyle Sampson made very clear in his testimony to Congress that he aggregated rather than controlled. The number of people telling this story, the extended period of time and tightly coordinated nature of the lies and evasions clearly demonstrates that this is not the result of a few rogue individuals attempting "CYA" to protect their individual skins because of personal infractions. This is department-wide policy, carefully scripted, directed, coordinated, then practiced and performed like a stage play. It is group action designed by the office of Alberto Gonzales. We will see Alberto performing the role of "jester" today in the hearings held by the House Judiciary Committee. But that is only the carefully scripted and rehearsed role he is playing for the audience. It is not him.

Al is fighting a clear defensive action. He is defending the White House personnel who directed the activities. His sole purpose now is to keep the questions focused on the actions of members of his Department of Justice for as long as he can. That will keep the investigators and the holders of hearings from going after Harriet Miers (resigned Presidential Counsel) as well as Karl Rove and his staff. Winning means stretching out the time so that the hearings do not get to the White House before January 2009 when the new President is installed.

See previous post Fired US attys say criminal cases will result from the firings..

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