The astonishing showdown between the Justice Department and White House three years ago over Bush’s illegal wiretapping of American citizens is a really, really big deal.
We don’t seem to be grasping the point yet, but it’s a bigger deal than the scandal that brought Nixon down. Watergate was indeed a second rate burglary when compared to Bush’s vast program of criminal spying (yes, such spying is a felony, and carries jail time) on millions of our phone calls.
Bush’s reckless lawlessness was too raw for Attorney General John Ashcroft, who is low on anybody’s list of civil rights bulldogs. It was too raw for his top deputy, James Comey. It was even too raw for Robert Mueller, the FBI director.
How raw is this? Well, Watergate itself wasn’t too raw for Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell or for his FBI director, Patrick Gray.
And yet the impact of the present Wiretappergate (Snoopergate? Bigbrothergate? Bug-gate?) seems so far to be very slight. What more will it take to wake up our TV network masters, and subsequently ourselves? Would the thugs in the White House actually have to pull guns on our top law enforcement officials?
Because they did everything but. Read the full Glenn Greenwald piece excerpted below, then go out and raise whatever hell you can. Honk your horn if you love Justice.
But more revealingly, just consider what it says about this administration. Not only did Comey think that he had to rush to the hospital room to protect Ashcroft from having a conniving Card and Gonzales manipulate his severe illness and confusion by coercing his signature on a document — behavior that is seen only in the worst cases of deceitful, conniving relatives coercing a sick and confused person to sign a new will — but the administration’s own FBI Director thought it was necessary to instruct his FBI agents not to allow Comey to be removed from the room.
Comey and Mueller were clearly both operating on the premise that Card and Gonzales were basically thugs. Indeed, Comey said that when Card ordered him to the White House, Comey refused to meet with Card without a witness being present, and that Card refused to allow Comey’s summoned witness (Solicitor General Ted Olson) even to enter Card’s office.
These are the most trusted intimates of the White House — the ones who are politically sympathetic to them and know them best — and they prepared for, defended themselves against, the most extreme acts of corruption and thuggery from the President’s Chief of Staff and his then-legal counsel (and current Attorney General of the United States).