Thursday, April 05, 2007

Column 96 (National) - Gonzales

The current issues surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales point up again the arrogance and complete lack of accountability of the Bush Administration and the willingness of its hard core of true believers to excuse the most egregious behavior on the part of BushCheneyRove on the flimsiest of pretexts.

At this point it’s probably overkill to point out that the Gonzales affair is only the latest in a long trail of lies, obfuscations, and half-truths going back at least to the non-existent WMD’s in Iraq and Saddam Hussein’s non-existent links to Al Qaeda – that trail wends its way through the abortive nomination of the totally unqualified Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court, on down to the exposure of Valerie Plame and the scapegoating of Scooter Libby as the fall guy for the Administration’s lies about that. Now we have the firing of eight US Attorneys, where we are to believe was somehow just an innocent exercise of executive prerogative.

There is no question that the firings were political. All eight cases bear the same stamp – whether the US Attorneys failed to investigate voter fraud cases that might have reversed Republican victories or whether they pursued corruption charges against Republicans like Duke Cunningham, in every case they resisted interference from Washington and were fired. And please hold the letters to the editor about how Clinton fired all the US Attorneys – there’s a world of difference between pro forma firing and restaffing and firings that targeted specific people who were not, in Sampson’s words “loyal Bushies.” The issue isn’t that they were fired but why they were fired.

We are now to believe that Gonzales, who should be working on his resum̩, or the feckless Ms Miers were behind the firings, but as the Romans said, in investigating guilt, ask cui bono? Who benefits? Neither Miers nor Gonzales had a dog in this fight Рwhy would the Attorney General want to replace conservative US Attorneys, some of whom had just had stellar performance reviews, with party hacks?

The only one who had a motive was Karl Rove. Rove's job is to build a permanent Republican majority; If that means replacing principled conservatives in the US Attorneys Office with Bush loyalists; what in Rove’s record suggests that he or his masters would hesitate?

The Military Commissions Act, the Patriot Act, the disregarding of habeas corpus, due process and the presumption of innocence all proclaim this Administration’s lack of regard for the Constitution and for basic justice. BushCheneyRove also have a low regard for law enforcement; preferring round ups of anyone who might plausibly be detained rather than the traditional methods of investigation and detention.

The Bush Administration is trying to hide behind the doctrine of “executive privilege,” which in this Administration’s case thinly masks contempt for the balance of powers mandated by the Constitution. When Congress rightly demands a public accounting of the actions of public officials, the President offers unsworn “testimony” behind closed doors and without a record, and blusters about a Constitutional Confrontation if he does not get his way, despite the fact that when presidents have tried to invoke this privilege, the courts have been skeptical.

The Bushies’ contempt for Congress should not surprise us. This administration has shown over and over that it does not believe that the laws apply to it, and that it does not respect its co-equal branches of government. Congress should subpoena Mr. Rove and the others, and question them under oath, in public. If Congress has more questions, they should be recalled. That’s Congress’s job- to exercise the “checks and balances” mandated by a document BushCheneyRove do not seem to have read – the Constitution of the United States of America.

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