Not yet completely Gonzoed out? I came across a couple of new points this weekend.
At Truthout, Elizabeth de la Vega talks about “The Problem With Alberto”. (The title recalls the tagline of my favorite website for a long time, Suck.com, now defunct and despite its name not a porn site. Their satire was bald enough to deserve the tag “A fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun”.) In particular, Ms. de la Vega, who was an assistant US attorney for twenty years, knows more than most about how things really work in such an office. Thus she can shred Alberto’s argument
…that, no, the work in the US attorneys’ offices is done by the career prosecutors, who will keep doing their cases no matter who the US attorney is. Indeed, Gonzales offered plaintively, the Office of the Attorney General didn’t really even know “that much” about what was going on in the US attorneys’ offices.
As one who worked as an assistant US attorney from 1983 through 2004 — in two districts, under four presidents and roughly ten different US attorneys — I can say that virtually every clause, and certainly the overall implication, of Gonzales’s claim is false.
To begin with, the already enormous reporting requirements for a US attorney’s office were tripled by the Bush administration. The list of reports the DoJ gets about every case, from the initial opening of a file to every activity, even simply procedural, that occurs on the case makes it clear that the Attorney General controls the US attorneys at every level of detail.
It was precisely such an Urgent Report that former San Diego US Attorney Carol Lam used to notify the Attorney General’s Office on May 10, 2006 that search warrants were going to be conducted in the Randy “Duke” Cunningham case. The next day, of course, was when Alberto Gonzales’s top aide wrote an email talking about the “very real problem we have right now” with Carol Lam.
Which is probably why those reporting requirements are there: so the AG can decide which cases to proceed with, what terms can be offered in plea agreements, and which accusations can be dropped.
And who does the AG ask for advice? My guess is Karl Rove.
(When I say I’d never vote for Hillary, I often add that I’d jump at the chance to vote for Elizabeth de la Vega. She’s exactly the sort of person we need in politics, yet have driven away.)
At Slate, Dahlia Lithwick suggests that Gonzales’s testimony might not have been the abject failure most pundits have called it.
In fact he might have taken a high inside pitch for the team. As she says, nobody wants to look like a dolt on national television. (Of course, the possibility exists that, as a dolt, the Attorney General can hardly fail to look like one, regardless of location.)
Big Ungay Al’s performance at the big table (described by Dana Milbank as chosen and placed to emphasize the witness’s short physical stature), though uninformative as usual, was of a piece with the general approach of this administration’s unitary-executive mindset. He basically let the Senate know he didn’t give a damn about their investigation because they can’t do anything to him.
…consider this telling colloquy with Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham:I tried to have dialogue with the Congress, to try to be as forthcoming as I can be, to reassure the Congress. I’ve tried to inform the Congress that I don’t have anything to hide. … I didn’t say no to the document request. I didn’t say, “No, you can’t interview” to my internal staff. … I’ve done — everything I’ve done has been consistent with the principle of pursuing truth and accountability.
This man was doing the Senate a favor by showing up at all. Turning over documents? He deserves a medal!
I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him get one.
Clearly Bush is not going to fire Gonzales right now, because that would make him look weak. The fact that everyone knows he is weak doesn’t seem to affect his judgements, as long as he’s doing what he thinks will make him look strong. As a result, he’d rather wait until after the Republicans lose the election to dump Rumsfeld, thus further alienating his own party, rather than admit that he’s going to have to dump Rumsfeld at some point, and taking the hit up front.
This is what my mother would call diagnostic. If everyone knows you’re weak, how can you possibly imagine that you’d look strong? Or perhaps he’s just incurious enough to believe that what things look like is what they are.
But it’s just as obvious that Rove will convince Bush that his legacy is at stake, and he has to jettison Gonzo. The AG will announce, no doubt late on a Friday evening, that he wants to spend more time with his family, take a needed vacation, and play some golf. They might even find a medal lying around somewhere.
My guess is that Bush, Cheney, Rove, and Rice are looking at a bus headed right for them. This is all about their lies over the war, and everyone knows it. Same with Wolfowitz: it’s not mainly about corruption at the World Bank, it’s mainly about warmongering. Corruption is what we catch them for, like jailing mobsters for tax evasion.
Their only remaining strategy seems to have two prongs. First, they’ll throw one person at a time under the Congressional investigation bus, each time slowing it slightly. Perhaps that will be sufficient to keep the inner circle out of jail. Second, they’ll continue the lost war, killing thousands more in their quest to avoid another accountability moment. Perhaps that will allow them to hand the war over to the next President.
These war criminals have killed nearly a million people. They should be sent to The Hague for trial.