Special prosecutor to investigate Gonzo?

Angry senators suggested a special prosecutor should investigate misconduct at the Justice Department, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday of deceit on the prosecutor firings and President Bush’s eavesdropping program.

Democrats and Republicans alike hammered Gonzales in four hours of testimony as he denied trying, in 2004, to push a hospitalized former attorney general into approving a counterterror program that the Justice Department then viewed as illegal.

Gonzales, alternately appearing wearied and seething, vowed anew to remain in his job even as senators told him outright they believe he is unqualified to stay.

He would not answer numerous questions, including whether the Bush administration would bar its U.S. attorneys from pursuing contempt charges against former White House officials who have defied congressional subpoenas for their testimony.

“It’s hard to see anything but a pattern of intentionally misleading Congress again and again,” Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told Gonzales during the often-bitter Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “Shouldn’t the attorney general of the United States meet a higher standard?”

“Obviously, there have been instances where I have not met that standard, and I’ve tried to correct that,” Gonzales answered.

The hearing rekindled a political furor that began with last year’s firings of nine U.S. attorneys and led to disclosure of a Justice Department hiring process that favored Republican loyalists. Gonzales has soldiered on with President Bush’s support, despite repeated calls for his resignation and questions about his role in a hospital room confrontation with former Attorney General John Ashcroft over whether to renew a classified but potentially illegal national security program.

“Of course the president continues to have full confidence in the attorney general,” White House spokesman Tony Fratto said after the hearing ended.

In one withering exchange, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., noted a potential need for a special prosecutor to bring contempt citations against two White House officials who have refused to testify about the U.S. attorney firings. The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday on the citations against Bush chief of staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers.

Normally, the U.S. attorney in Washington would bring such criminal contempt charges to a federal grand jury. But Gonzales repeatedly refused to say whether he would allow a presidentially appointed prosecutor to investigate White House aides who Bush has said are covered by executive privilege and therefore exempt from talking.

That leaves open the door for presidents to shut down the checks-and-balances of congressional oversight, Specter said.

“You’re asking me a question that’s related to an ongoing controversy,” Gonzales protested.

Specter, top Republican on the panel, said he was merely asking if Gonzales recognized the constitutional problem at hand.

“Would you focus on my question for just a minute, please?” Specter asked.

He added: “I’m not going to pursue that question, Mr. Attorney General, because I see it’s hopeless. … You’re the attorney general, and you’re also a lawyer. And we’re dealing with a very fundamental controversy.”

In another flashpoint, Gonzales denied he tried to pressure the ailing Ashcroft into renewing the counterterror program in March 2004, as recounted in testimony earlier this year by former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey. At the time, Ashcroft refused to give his OK to Gonzales and then-White House chief of staff Andy Card, saying he had delegated authority to make that decision to Comey, who questioned the program’s legality.

Gonzales described the encounter at Ashcroft’s hospital bedside as having come at the bidding of congressional leaders who urged the administration to continue the program. He said he and Card “didn’t press him. We said ‘Thank you’ and we left.”

“We went there because we thought it was important for him to know where the congressional leadership was on this,” Gonzales said.

Senators furiously accused Gonzales of misleading them a year ago when he testified there were no internal objections to the eavesdropping program that targeted suspected terrorists in the United States. Gonzales, however, said the hospital confrontation dealt with a different intelligence program that he would not identify.

“The disagreement that occurred, and the reason for the visit to the hospital, senator, was about other intelligence activities,” Gonzales said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Gonzales’ refusal to answer direct questions about the program demonstrated deceit.

“How can you say you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercises like this?” Schumer asked. “You want to be attorney general, you should be able to clarify it yourself.”

“There’s a discrepancy here in sworn testimony, added committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. “We’re going to have to ask who’s telling the truth, who’s not.”

After numerous apologies and promises to repair the Justice Department, the normally placid Gonzales was visibly frustrated and at times angered at senators unwillingness to move past the controversy. He flinched as the hearing ended and protesters loudly heckled him as he shook lawmakers’ hands.

Yet Gonzales also tried to appease senators who asked why he hasn’t resigned.

“Would you please explain to us why the administration of justice and the American people would not be better served by somebody sitting in the office who does not have all of the problems that you possess with respect to believability, credibility, confidence, trust?” asked Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.

“Ultimately I have to decide whether or not it would be better for me to leave or just stay and try to fix the problems,” Gonzales said with a rueful smile. “I’ve decided to stay and fix the problems.”

Comments

  1. bryan mcclellan

    Thanks JACU,I read the link and methinks someone a.k.a. berto the evil hobbit pulled the plug on the cesspool.Now, will he be the one smirk uses to stem the onrushing deluge of shit(plug the hole), or are they so fearless that they will allow it to continue to wash away America ?

  2. gene

    Please everyone watch the film reference (www.zeitgeistmovie.com) it will tell pretty much the hold story and just how serious todays world has become. It should be required viewing for all here at CHB. I personally only disagree with the first part but the last is absolutely true and happening in the now.

  3. gene

    I’m not sure what kind of individuals Seal and Carl Nemo are referring too but here in Mobile, Alabama I see mostly clueless people who just don’t care. All they seem to desire is things (especially large amounts of food) to stuff into their overweight bodies. Selfish, self-centered clueless morons that probably can’t even spell politics much less comprehend what is currently happening to this nation. Many are simply disgusting to even look at.

    It would seem the average American is NOT equiped to care, comprehend or be motivated to make the changes that would save this nation. I see nothing but brain dead (very fat) Zombies.

  4. justanothercoverup

    I see something different…

    Besides Capitol Hill Blue, I peruse many different sites – and most have the same message but in different words, by different authors; The message and frustration, indignation, and downright exasperation is apparent no matter where you go – and still, “the people” refuse to unite and speak with one voice!

    Someone, whether it be here on Capitol Hill Blue, The Smirking Chimp, BuzzFlash, or any of the Progressive sites we post on – has to pick-up the torch and start organizing and finding a way for ALL of the fractured movements to come-together as one, and until that happens, nothing will change…

    “We the People” could force Congress to impeach both of these tyrants in a matter of just a few days, but it takes solidarity – and someone who already has a strong voice – to bring the impeachment movement to fruition.

    Personally, I think if most of the owners of some of the progressive sites I spoke of got together, and just for this important task – forgot about their “traffic flow” just long enough to set-up a column that would run in unison throughout the Progressive Blogs – just one identical column per week, directing people how and where to protest – we could get the job done, and fast.

    Unfortunately, it appears that all of the Blogs and sites are too territorial to understand that the fight against Bush/Cheney can only be won by solidarity – “death by a thousand cuts” does not work against these bastards.

    I’ve been making this plea for weeks… Why won’t anyone listen?

    JAC

  5. Sandra Price

    Gene, you are on the mark! Our last two generations know nothing of freedoms and look at the federal government as their financial security instead of their source of freedoms.

    Our schools are not teaching the brand of civics that we understand as the teachers are often unaware of the source of our freedoms. It is too easy to hand it all to God (our creator) and overlook the words of our founders who understood that the government was built for the limiting of power over the people. Our Bill of Rights gave us the power to live as individuals.

    We, as parents and grandparents, must make our kids aware of the power they have as American citizens. This is lost on 90% of the voters who will always vote for the candidates who promise them free stuff. Our new citizens have virtually no information about what is expected of them and what they can expect from the government.

    It all sits in the education of our young Americans and the Governor of each state must look into what the students in his state are taught about America.

  6. Steve Horn

    And congress does nothing but pollute the air and contribute to global warming with it’s constant stream of oral flatus. Expressions of personal outrage and anger make for fine sound bites but do nothing to turn the tide of corruption and arrogance within the beltway.

    Keep in mind – 11/08 – 100% of the house and 33% of the senate will be up for re-election. Keep their inaction in mind as the primary season approaches.

    Peace

    Steve

  7. old_curmudgeon

    Same old story, same old result. It’s all the Big Lie. They don’t care about the Constitution. Take a couple of hours and watch:
    http://www.zeitgeistmovie.com/

    It’s worth the time. It’ll explain why they’ve trashed our civil liberties. But, that’s just this old curmudgeon’s opinion.

  8. gene

    Unfortuneately Sandra and I hate to keep bringing it up but I just can’t see (enough) sensible people to stop this carnage that is on going. As you mention, the last several generation of American citizens have been programed differently and truth has become something that now (in their minds) has many gray areas, our Judicial system refers to them as loop holes. I consider them hell holes.

    This nation will never regain what it has lost and I’m not going to speculate just what that means or how all this will end. I am sure of one thing, its going to get alot worse on planet earth in the next few years if not much sooner. Their is no stoping this rampage of evil that has insidiously lobotmized much of the human race, especially here in this nation.

  9. Carl Nemo

    Hi justanothercoverup…

    I went to the link and read the material. What I get out of reading this is that by Gonzales referencing this classified meeting he’s putting “The Gang of Eight” from both sides of the aisle at risk of knowing what Bushco has been up to concerning wiretaps etc.

    Since I no longer trust any of them; I consider all of them in the House as being suspect at this point in time along with Club100, the Senate. They are all trying to hang Gonzales out to dry, but many of them are far deeper into this illegal wiretap issue and no doubt other freedom destroying scams than we could possibly imagine.

    They have far too many of these classified; i.e, “SECRET” meetings hidden from public scrutiny. When they blather about national security etc., rest assured from “we the people” ‘s side of the fence they are all busy troweling in more bricks for our NWO prison!

    Carl Nemo **==