Burning the Law in a Riot of Treason By William Rivers Pitt

Dandelion Salad

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | ColumnistMonday 27 August 2007

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there’s a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.– Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

The departure of Alberto Gonzales from the Attorney General’s Office brings America to a place of definitions, and hanging in the balance is the very idea of the nation itself. The basic concepts and fundamental principles of our republic now stand as the only legitimate considerations going forward, for they have been tested almost to annihilation already, and will not endure much longer if we continue on this path.

It is the mythology within the Declaration of Independence we speak of, the fiction that tells us we are endowed with rights, and that those rights are unalienable. This falsehood has been vividly exposed in the last several years, and it has been a harsh lesson indeed. All the rights we hold dear and believe to be our greatest strength are, in fact, only words on old paper with neither force nor power. The next line – “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” – is the muscle behind the myth, the core that has endured a withering assault.

Matters are so much worse than our national political dialogue lets on. The resignation of Gonzales has unleashed a torrent of hard words and harsh criticisms aimed at the deplorable nature of his tenure, but the truth of it continues to elude mention. They call Gonzales an incompetent, a crony, a loyalist, a disgrace, leaving off the one word necessary to fully explain who he is, and what he was engaged in before he stepped down.

Alberto Gonzales is a traitor. That is the only word to explain it.

He is not the only one; there are many more traitors like him in the Bush administration, criminals joined in an act of treason so vast and comprehensive that it beggars comparison. Nothing quite like this has ever before been attempted in America, and if they are allowed to succeed, there will be nothing of what defines America left to be seen.

Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have committed their treason against the rule of law itself, a crime so absolute that it is technically not illegal. There is no code, ordinance or law specifically forbidding the total ruination of all our rights and protections; the act is neither felony nor misdemeanor, because nobody ever considered the black-letter necessity of making it illegal to destroy the rule of law.

But there is no America without that rule of law – no rights, no protections, no Constitution; there is nothing, and if you destroy the rule of law, you destroy the idea that is America itself. The only word for a crime like that is treason, and those who would dare commit it are traitors. Gonzales and his Bush administration collaborators have done more than dare. They have been pursuing it, with deliberation and intent, throughout each moment of their tenure.

Their treason is not in the actual crimes they have committed, but in the way they have chosen to avoid accountability for them. Their treason is not their refusal to obey the Freedom of Information Act, but in their insistence that they are above the application of that law. Their treason is not in their refusal to obey subpoenas from Congress, but in their claim that they are above the laws behind those subpoenas. Their treason is not that they fired United States attorneys and then refused to come clean about it, but that they decimated the impartiality of the Department of Justice and turned the rule of law into another partisan weapon. Their treason is not the NSA surveillance of Americans, but their steadfast refusal to submit to the governing laws and the requirement of oversight.

When George W. Bush asserted a claim of Executive Privilege that made him and his administration immune to all laws and oversight, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Dick Cheney asserted that the Office of the Vice President was not part of the Executive Branch, because he did not want to obey the laws requiring him to hand over official documents to the Archives, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law. When Alberto Gonzales chose to surrender the independence of the Department of Justice so he could protect those assertions, that was an act of treason because it shattered the rule of law.

Americans have only the rights they are able to protect and defend. Our rights are nothing more than ideas; only theory and argument on parchment all too easily burned to ashes. The power of those rights is only found in our collective submission to the rule of law, and submission to that rule of law is all that stands between our freedoms and the conflagration of tyranny. Without the rule of law, there is no America.

That is the treason of Alberto Gonzales, and the treason of the Bush administration entire. They have attacked and undercut the rule of law by refusing to submit to it, and in doing so have brought us to the edge of appalling infamy. Theirs is a crime without peer, and we will be fortunate beyond measure if we are able to recover from it.

The fact that Alberto Gonzales has left is meaningless in the main, because the treason he participated in continues in his absence. If the damage is to be repaired, he must be replaced by someone who will submit to the main imperative, someone who will submit to the rule of law, someone with real independence and unbending respect for the idea that is America. Gonzales must not be replaced by another crony or yes-man, because Americans have only those rights we can protect and defend, and another traitor in that lofty post is no protection at all.

Gonzales was more than a poor steward of this trust. He was a traitor among traitors. If the rule of law is to stand, the treason he helped commit must be ended, and a patriot must take his place.


William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know andThe Greatest Sedition Is Silence.” His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America’s Ravaged Reputation,” is now available from PoliPointPress.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

TPMtv: Unforgettable – Top Ten Gonzales Moments (video)

Dandelion Salad

Veracifier

Aug. 28, 2007

It’s over, it’s… all over. Alberto Gonzales resigned as Attorney General yesterday. As Americans we cheer, but as muckrakers we shed a tear for the man who over the past 6 months taught us new things about how mendacious, incompetent, and ridiculous an attorney general could be. Today we take one final fond look back at the Top 10 moments from the now-resigned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Thanks for the (hazy) memories Al.

Letterman: Gonzales stepping down but ‘can’t recall’ why (video link)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Raw Story
Published: Tuesday August 28, 2007

The Alberto Gonzales resignation provided the inevitable subject of David Letterman’s top ten list– and a good bit of quip fodder for his opening monologue–on Monday evening’s installment of CBS’s Late Show.

“Beautiful, beautiful day here in New York City,” said Letterman at the top of the progam. “So nice that Alberto Gonzales was happy to be out of work.”

“By the way,” the host zinged a moment later, “during that last joke another cabinet member resigned.”

Still zeroed-in on the attorney general, Letterman deadpanned “Alberto Gonzales is stepping down–but he can’t recall why,” adding “but actually, he will be replaced by Drew Carey,” as band-leader Paul Shaffer struck up the Price is Right game show theme.

Later, in the show’s signature feature, Letterman rattled off the top ten reasons Alberto Gonzales resigned, including “Felt he wasn’t incompetent enough for the Bush administration,” and “Didn’t want to be around for transition to the Kucinich administration.”

The following video is from CBS’s Late Show, broadcast on August 27.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

.

LINK

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Gonzo’s Gone. Now Let’s Go After Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Gonzo’s Gone. Now Let’s Go After Cheney by Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

by Dave Lindorff
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Let’s be clear. Alberto Gonzales is resigning as attorney general not because he’s become an embarrassment to the Bush administration — which has repeatedly shown itself to be beyond embarrassment — but because he is no longer useful. Exposed as a serial liar and an administration hack, he can no longer be relied upon by the Bush administration to carry forward its criminal agenda of subverting the Constitution, the electoral process and the Bill of Rights, because his every step is being watched by the public and the Congress.

But this is no victory unless the Congress follows up by pursuing those who put Gonzales up to his crimes.

The whole reason felons and hacks like Gonzales resign from office is to bury their misdeeds by leaving town.

If Congress then obliges by moving on to other things, the resignation will have succeeded.

It lookes at first as though we would have Michael Chertoff as AG after Gonzo. Now on one level that might have been an improvement. Gonzales was a both a house servant to Bush through his years as governor and president, doing whatever was necessary to tidy up after Bush’s messes, like hiding evidence of his drunk driving record and his dereliction of duty during the Vietnam War, and a kind of mob attorney, developing legal loopholes to protect the president from prosecution (or impeachment) for various crimes as president, like violating the Geneva Conventions or unleashing the nation’s spy apparatus against Americans. Chertoff, who is not a part of the Texas Mafia, might not have been quite so ready to cross the line into rank sycophancy and to play the role of co-conspirator, particularly given that it would only be for another 16 months.

Then again, Chertoff, in his short stint at what is still referred to as the “Justice” Department, headed up the anti-terrorism unit under Gonzales’ predecessor, John Ashcroft, and willingly played along with the sham prosecution of John Walker Lindh, the kid who was captured in Afghanistan and inflated by Ashcroft and Chertoff into “the American Taliban.” It was Chertoff who successfully deep-sixed evidence of Lindh’s weeks of torture at the hands of American forces, by threatening Lindh with a treason prosecution, while holding out the offer of a deal — “just” 15 years in the can if he agreed to sign a fraudulent statement saying he had “never been mistreated” in US captivity, and to accept a gag order barring him from talking about what had happened to him for the entire length of his sentence — an unprecedented gag order.

That prosecution and silencing of Lindh, which prevented the public from exploring the deliberate campaign of torture that had been developed in Afghanistan, later to “migrate” to Guantanamo and thence to Abu Ghraib and Iraq, was in its way as damaging to the nation as was Chertoff’s other signal disaster — his inept and callous mishandling of the catastrophe of the Katrina flooding of New Orleans.

So count it as lucky that Chertoff — a demonstrable failure both as an administrator and as a defender of justice — didn’t make the cut as a replacement for Gonzales.

In the event, it is apparently going to be Solicitor General Paul Clement, a hard-right attorney who since 2005 has been the administration’s chief attorney, who will take over as interim AG when Gonzo goes home to Texas on September 17. Clement, a former Federalist Society member who clerked for Antonin Scalia as a young man, can be expected to take his view of an all powerful chief executive with him into the AG’s office, which will probably mean a continued hard line on both Congressional subpoenas, and on Congressional requests for special prosecutors to investigate White House wrongdoing. Going with Clement, who was next in line to Gonzales, with both the assistant and deputy assistant AG already resigned, also conveniently spares Bush the task of having to get somebody through a Senate confirmation.

The one good thing that can be said about the Gonzales resignation is that it eliminates the Democratic leadership’s latest gambit for attempting to derail the impeachment movement. As support for the impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney has grown, both among the public at large and in Congress, where there are now at least 20 co-sponsors for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s Cheney impeachment bill, the Democratic leadership in the House scrambled to get behind a purely inside-the-beltway “campaign” to impeach Gonzales — a move that did succeed in dividing the real, authentic impeachment movement.

The interesting thing is that in backing the impeachment of Gonzales, those leaders and senior House Democrats who have been brushing off the broader impeachment movement gave the lie to two of their main arguments against impeachment — that it would be “too divisive” and that there “isn’t time” for impeachment. Clearly if it wasn’t too late to impeach Gonzales, and if impeaching Gonzales would not be too divisive, neither is it too late to impeach Cheney and neither would impeaching Cheney be “too divisive.”

So let’s hail the departure of Gonzo, let’s demand a continuation of the House and Senate investigations into his various misdeeds and his lies to Congressional committees, and most importantly, let’s move forward with the campaign to impeach Cheney, starting with a full-court campaign to get all those who so readily signed on to Washington Rep. Jay Inslee’s Gonzales impeachment bill to now sign on to Rep. Kucinich’s H.Res. 333, a resolution to impeach the vice president.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Gonzales Gone for Wrong Reasons by Juan Cole

Dandelion Salad

by Juan Cole
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 28 August 2007

The great shame of it all is that Alberto Gonzales was confirmed as Attorney General despite it being widely known that he had played a central role in attempting to authorize the use of torture on prisoners in US custody. He had tossed aside the US Constitution’s own prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment” (such a wimpy bleeding-heart liberal document). It is an index of the corruption of the Republican Party, which then controlled Congress, that they made this man attorney general in the first place.

The great shame of it all is that Gonzales was hounded out of office not because he authorized torture and assaulted the basic principles of the US constitution, but because he fired US attorneys who wanted to investigate both Republican and Democratic voter fraud. Torture people all you like, is the message he sent, but if you’re even-handed as between Republicans and Democrats, you are fired.

He tossed aside the Geneva Conventions, which were crafted to prevent any reemergence of Nazism in the post-war period. While Gonzales is not a Nazi, if you get rid of an anti-Nazi legal instrument you are in effect aiding and abetting potential fascism.

MSNBC wrote at the height of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, which Gonzales had implicitly encouraged:

By Jan. 25, 2002, according to a memo obtained by NEWSWEEK [pdf], it was clear that Bush had already decided that the Geneva Conventions did not apply at all, either to the Taliban or Al Qaeda. In the memo, which was written to Bush by Gonzales, the White House legal counsel told the president that Powell had “requested that you reconsider that decision.” Gonzales then laid out startlingly broad arguments that anticipated any objections to the conduct of U.S. soldiers or CIA interrogators in the future. “As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war,” Gonzales wrote to Bush. “The nature of the new war places a —high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians.” Gonzales concluded in stark terms: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.”

The Geneva conventions, to which the United States is a signatory (i.e. it is a treaty with the force of American law) cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand.

The great shame of it all is that Gonzales is being ousted for what amounts to selectively abetting voter fraud.

His role as torturer-in-chief would not have forced him from office.

It is a great shame.

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see:

Gertie goes down. by Michael

Sen. Chuck Schumer Statement on Gonzales Resignation + Bush on Gonzales Resignation (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Veracifier

Aug. 27, 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resignation press conference by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Bush on Gonzales Resignation

see:

Attorney General Gonzales to resign by David Edwards and Nick Juliano + Alberto Gonzales Resigns (video; link)

The Democrats’ responsibility in the wake of Gonzales’ resignation by Glenn Greenwald

The Democrats’ responsibility in the wake of Gonzales’ resignation by Glenn Greenwald

Dandelion Salad

by Glenn Greenwald
Salon
Monday August 27, 2007 08:30 EST

(Updated belowUpdate IIUpdate III)
One of the most blatantly dishonest political hacks ever to occupy the position of U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, has now resigned. This is a real moment of truth for the Democratic Congress. Democrats, who have offered up little other than one failure after the next since taking power in January, can take a big step toward redeeming themselves here. No matter what, they must ensure that Gonzales’ replacement is a genuinely trustworthy and independent figure.

That means that Democrats must not confirm anyone, such as Michael Chertoff, who has been ensconced in the Bush circle. Instead, the DOJ and the country desperately need a completely outside figure who will ensure that the prosecutorial machinery operates independently, even if — especially if — that means finally investigating the litany of Executive branch abuses and lawbreaking which have gone almost entirely uninvestigated, as well uncovering those which remain concealed.

The standard excuse invoked by Democrats to justify their capitulations — namely, that they cannot attract a filibuster-proof or veto-proof majority to defy the President — will be unavailing here. They themselves can filibuster the confirmation of any proposed nominee to replace Gonzales. They do not need Blue Dogs or Bush Dogs or any of the other hideous cowards in their caucus who remain loyal to the most unpopular President in modern American history. The allegedly “Good Democrats” can accomplish this vital step all on their own. They only need 40 Senate votes to achieve it.

It is difficult to overstate how vital this is. The unexpected resignation of Gonzales provides a truly critical opportunity to restore real oversight to our government, to provide advocates of the rule of law with a quite potent weapon to compel adherence to the law and, more importantly, to expose and bring accountability for prior lawbreaking. All of the investigations and scandals, currently stalled hopelessly, can be dramatically and rapidly advanced with an independent Attorney General at the helm of the DOJ.

That is not going to happen if the Democrats allow the confirmation of one of the ostensibly less corrupt and “establishment-respected” members of the Bush circle — Michael Chertoff or Fred Fielding or Paul Clement or some Bush appointee along those lines. The new Attorney General must be someone who is not part of that rotted circle at all — even if they are supposedly part of the less rotted branches — since it is that circle which ought to be the subject of multiple DOJ investigations.

As Democrats supposedly just learned (yet again), even the Bush appointees whom they claim (foolishly) to believe they can trust to act independently, such as DNI Mike McConnell, have their ultimate allegiance to George Bush and Dick Cheney. The President is certainly entitled to choose someone who is generally compatible with him ideologically, but the only acceptable replacement for Alberto Gonzales is someone who is truly independent of the Bush machine and whom Democrats are supremely confident will act independently, which means pursuing criminal investigations where warranted of the highest levels of this administration, including the departing Attorney General himself.

Congressional Democrats, insulting the intelligence of their own supporters, have repeatedly claimed to have trusted the Bush administration and its appointees only to be “betrayed” time and again — they were “betrayed” by allowing the confirmation of Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court based on false assurances that they would respect precedent; they were “betrayed” again by the agreement on the Military Commissions Act between the White House and Graham/Warner/McCain only to then have the agreement modified severely by last-minute changes; they were “betrayed” again by trusting Mike McConnell on the FISA deal; and they even claim to have been “betrayed” by supporting the confirmation of Gonzales himself based upon assurances at his confirmation hearing that he understood and would honor his independent role as Attorney General.

That excuse is not going to work again. Relying on assurances from some current Bush appointee that they will act independently is woefully and self-evidently insufficient. Only a truly outside figure, one who is entirely independent of the Bush circle, should be acceptable.

Pressuring Senate Democrats right away on this is vital. There is no more important domestic political goal then ensuring that the DOJ investigative and prosecutorial machinery operates independently. Senate Democrats will have none of their usual excuses if they fail to compel the nomination of someone truly independent and/or if they sit by meekly and allow the appointment of someone whose independence is even questionable.

Whatever it takes — repeated blocking of nominees, filibustering, protracted hearings — it is critical that it be done in order to restore integrity to the DOJ. A less-than-independent replacement as Attorney General will be entirely the fault of Democrats if they allow it to happen. Conversely, by ensuring the confirmation of someone independent, Senate Democrats can take a major step in revitalizing the rule of law, revitalizing their political base, showing the country they stand for something, and making the case that the 2006 midterm election change of control actually meant something.

Continued…

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see:

Attorney General Gonzales to resign by David Edwards and Nick Juliano + Alberto Gonzales Resigns (video; link)

Sen. Chuck Schumer Statement on Gonzales Resignation + Bush on Gonzales Resignation (videos)

Attorney General Gonzales to resign by David Edwards and Nick Juliano + Alberto Gonzales Resigns (video; link)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Raw Story
Published: Monday August 27, 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation Monday, ending months of calls that he would step down from the Justice Department over his role in the dismissal of federal prosecutors and role in expanding the power to spy on Americans.In a news conference Monday morning, Gonzales did not address the reasons for his resignation, and he refused to answer reporters’ shouted questions.

“Even my worst days at Attorney General have been better than my father’s best days,” said Gonzales, whose parents immigrated to Texas from Mexico before he was born.

Gonzales told President Bush of the resignation Friday and met with the president at his Crawford, Texas, ranch over the weekend, according to the New York Times, which first reported Gonzales’s resignation Monday.

Gonzales will leave office Sept. 17, he said.

Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have made increasingly vocal appeals for Gonzales’s resignation over the last several months. He has been accused of misleading House and Senate committees investigating his role in a federal prosecutor firing scandal and the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.

In an apparent answer to critics who say Gonzales’s tenure at Justice has encouraged law enforcemet agencies to overstep their constitutional boundaries, Gonzales said Monday that he worked to ensure the “rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected.”

“It’s a good day for justice in the United States,” David Iglesias, one of the fired US Attorneys, said on MSNBC Monday.

The Attorney General’s departure is the latest high-profile resignation within the Bush administration. The president’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, announced his resignation earlier this month.

Former Sen. John Edwards was the first Democratic presidential candidate to weigh in on the news of Gonzales’ resignation, which broke early Monday morning.

“Better late than never,” Edwards said in a prepared statement released by his campaign.

Critics said Gonzales’ resignation should not end Congressional — and possible criminal — inquiries into his alleged misconduct overseeing the Justice Department.

“Questions of whether Justice Department officials lied to Congress, conducted criminal inquiries to further political ends and made hiring decisions based on political affiliation still merit investigation regardless of Mr. Gonzales’ resignation,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the independent watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Just as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s resignation did not impede the ongoing criminal investigation into his conduct while a member of Congress, so Mr. Gonzales’ departure should not stop … probes into the illegal actions of our nation’s top ranking law enforcement officials.”

Those inquiries should continue in the House Judiciary Committee, where Gonzales has testified several times, its chairman said Monday.

“More than accountability, we need answers. Unfortunately, the continued stonewalling of the White House in the U.S. Attorney scandal has deprived the American people of the truth,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said in a prepared statement. “If the power of the prosecutor has been misused in the name of partisanship, we deserve a full airing of the facts. The responsibility to uncover these facts is still on the Congress, and the Judiciary Committee in particular.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed that sentiment in a separate statement.

“This resignation is not the end of the story,” Reid said. “Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White House.”

As news of Gonzales’ resignation emerged, speculation centered on who would become his replacement for the remaining 17 months of President Bush’s term. A top candidate is Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a prominent member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats would be willing to work with the White House to confirm a new attorney general.

“What we Democrats have always said is that we need somebody in this department … who will put rule of law above all others, rule of law above any political consideration,” Schumer said on CNN Monday. “… Our attitude is going to be one of cooperation.”

A senior administration official told the Times that Bush has not yet selected a replacement but will not leave the position vacant long. Bush “grudgingly” accepted Gonzales’ resignation, the Times reported.

Gonzales’s resignation is expected to be announced officially in a 10:30 a.m. news conference Monday.

The Times reports that Justice Department and White House spokesmen were denying reports of an imminent resignation as recently as Sunday afternoon. Judiciary Committee aides told the Times they had received no indication over the weekend that Gonzales would resign.

Fox News reported Monday morning that US Solicitor General Paul Clement could be appointed as a temporary replacement.

Developing…

Gonzales makes official statement of resignation:

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

.

LINK

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

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Alberto Gonzales Resigns


Veracifier
Aug. 27, 2007

Press statement on resignation, August 27, 2007


***

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Resigns

Howard Schneider | The Washington Post | August 27, 2007

On Mariné’s Blog

see:

Sen. Chuck Schumer Statement on Gonzales Resignation + Bush on Gonzales Resignation (videos)

The Democrats’ responsibility in the wake of Gonzales’ resignation by Glenn Greenwald

The Founders Had an Idea for Handling Alberto Gonzales By Adam Cohen

Dandelion Salad

By Adam Cohen
Truthout
The New York Times

Go to Original

Sunday 19 August 2007

    William Belknap, Ulysses S. Grant’s disgraced secretary of war, is experiencing a revival. Impeached in 1876 for taking bribes, he has become the inspiration for a movement to remove Attorney General Alberto Gonzales from office. Impeachment is usually thought of as limited to presidents, but the Constitution not only allows the impeachment of Cabinet members, in Belknap’s case, it was actually done.

    Impeaching Mr. Gonzales has moved beyond the hypothetical, now that Jay Inslee, Democrat of Washington, and five other prosecutors-turned-representatives have introduced a resolution to conduct an impeachment inquiry. Congress is wary, and not only because of post-Clinton impeachment hangover. The grounds set out in the Constitution are vague, and the Democrats do not want to be seen as overreaching.

    Members of Congress should keep in mind, however, that the founders gave them the impeachment power for a reason – and Mr. Gonzales’s malfeasance is just the sort they were worried about.

    The Constitution provides for impeachment for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Not a clear formula, but it wasn’t meant to be. Impeachment, Alexander Hamilton explained in Federalist 65, cannot be “tied down” by “strict rules, either in the delineation of the offense” by the House, or “in the construction of it” by the Senate.

    The founders did not want impeachment to be undertaken so casually that, in James Madison’s words, the president and other officers effectively served at the “pleasure of the Senate.” But they also did not want to limit it to a few specific offenses. The phrase “other high crimes and misdemeanors” was intended to give Congress leeway.

    Impeachment was one of the important checks and balances the founders built into the Constitution. At state ratification conventions, it was promoted as a tool for Congress to rein in any officeholder who “dares to abuse the power vested in him by the people.”

    Impeachment of Mr. Gonzales would fit comfortably into the founders’ framework. No one could charge this Congress with believing that executive branch members serve at the “pleasure of the Senate” or the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has indicated that impeachment of President Bush is “off the table,” and there has been little talk of impeaching Vice President Dick Cheney or others in the administration.

    Congress has heard extensive testimony about how Mr. Gonzales’s Justice Department has become an arm of a political party, choosing lawyers for nonpartisan positions based on politics, and bringing cases – including prosecutions that have put people in jail – to help Republicans win elections.

    Mr. Gonzales’s repeated false and misleading statements to Congress are also impeachable conduct. James Iredell, whom George Washington would later appoint to the Supreme Court, told North Carolina’s ratification convention that “giving false information to the Senate” was the sort of act “of great injury to the community” that warranted impeachment.

    The United States attorneys scandal is also the sort of abuse the founders worried about. Top prosecutors, most with sterling records, were apparently fired because they refused to let partisan politics guide their decisions about whether to prosecute. Madison, the father of the Constitution, noted in a speech to the first Congress that “wanton removal of meritorious officers would subject” an official to impeachment.

    If the House began an impeachment inquiry, Mr. Gonzales would most likely resign rather than risk the unpleasantness of the hearings, and the ignominy of being removed. Congress should think of it as a constitutional tap on the shoulder, to let the attorney general know that the time has truly come for him to go. If Mr. Gonzales did resign, this Congress would most likely be more gracious than the one in 1876, which ignored Mr. Belknap’s hurried resignation and impeached him anyway.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Bush Fails Upward in ‘War on Terror’ By Ivan Eland

Dandelion Salad

By Ivan Eland
Consortium News
August 19, 2007

Editor’s Note: George W. Bush has always presented himself as a dedicated free-marketeer who lambastes the inefficiencies of the public sector and hails the genius of the markets — except when tough standards of performance are applied to him.

Throughout his adult life, Bush has failed upwards — and that trend seems to be continuing through his presidency. In this guest essay, the Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland examines how Bush’s errors in Iraq and the “war on terror” have brought him more power:

If a restaurant, dry cleaner, or home repair business provided inferior goods or shoddy services, it is likely that the concern would go belly up. Yet when the U.S. government makes a blunder, the more its citizens reward its failure with further money and authority.

For example, after the Bush administration exacerbated the worldwide threat from Islamic terrorists by invading and occupying two Muslim nations, spied on Americans without warrants—which is both illegal and unconstitutional—to “urgently” combat such terrorism, and then saw its Attorney General dissemble about the espionage program, Congress has actually rewarded the administration for its actions.

Afraid of being labeled “soft on terrorism” after an administration report cleverly stoked public fear by hyping al Qaeda’s regrouping, the legislators not only granted the administration legal authority for such warrantless domestic spying, but widened it to include cases in which terrorism is not suspected.

Now the government may listen in on every phone call made by Americans to or from overseas. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has vowed that this cowardly travesty will be rectified when Congress reconvenes in September; but now that it’s law, President Bush need only veto the bill and obtain the votes of one-third of one chamber of Congress to block any changes to the horrific provisions.

At this point, the one scant hope seems to be that a more conservative Supreme Court would really be “strict constructionist” and rule that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution—which should protect people from unreasonable searches and seizures—makes no exception to the requirement that wiretapping warrants be subject to judicial approval.

Not even for reasons of “national security” does the Fourth Amendment waive warrants. In fact, protecting citizens’ rights during especially stressful situations was considered quite deliberately in the design of the Constitution.

This example is not the only self-generating demand for government activism that has arisen from the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Although al Qaeda had no presence in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, the Mesopotamian branch rose in opposition to the U.S. occupation, and now is causing mayhem by launching numerous suicide attacks against both military and civilian targets.

Yet with a straight face, George W. Bush maintains that the U.S. must continue expending U.S. and Iraqi lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq to battle a threat he helped generate. He is also arming former enemies in Iraq—the Sunni guerrillas—to help battle the destructive group.

Trust in the guerrillas may be misplaced, and could come back to haunt the United States later or exacerbate the ongoing civil war.

Furthermore, after the elimination of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq—Shi’ite Iran’s greatest rival—it was predictable that the strength of America’s greatest strategic competitor in the Persian Gulf region would grow. It is unwise to conduct military action that is likely to help your chief rival, but the zealous Bush administration did exactly that.

After the United States created an 800-pound Iranian regional gorilla, it then felt the need to sell $20 billion dollars’ worth of arms to shore up its skittish, oil-rich, Sunni Gulf allies, and to try to buy some cooperation from them in supporting the Shi’ite-Kurdish government in Iraq.

These sales in turn meant that the United States had to open its wallet—hiking by 25 percent the already huge military aid subsidies to the Gulf states’ nervous rival Israel, to an average of $3 billion per year.

Finally, in the chain of largesse, aid to Egypt, a potential rival of Israel, also had to be increased to an average of $1.3 billion per year. Thus, to compensate for its bungling, the United States is stoking an arms race in a volatile region, which could lead to further catastrophes.

Most of the U.S. public does not seem to notice that its government’s actions have exacerbated or even created foreign threats, which that same government then says it needs more resources in order to counter.

Instead of demanding that their government cease its excessive military interventions and occupations, arms sales, and foreign military assistance, and insisting that Congress cut off funding for such actions, the U.S. public rewards a government that not only performs poorly against those threats, but actually exacerbates them.

The public would never stand for such failure from private business.

Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute and Assistant Editor of The Independent Review. Dr. Eland has been Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, Evaluator-in-Charge (national security and intelligence) for the U.S. General Accounting Office, and Investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Hardball: Did Gonzales Lie to Congress? + FBI’s Chief’s Notes Contradict Gonzales + Dept of … Justice? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

August 17, 2007
From: heathr234 FBI Director Robert Mueller’s notes a…

FBI Director Robert Mueller’s notes about the warrantless wiretap program differ from the testimony Gonzales gave before Congress. Michael Isikoff and Mark Green weigh in.

August 17, 2007
From: CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

AUGUST 17, 2007 MSNBC HARDBALL

AUGUST 17, 2007 MSNBC TUCKER

Daily Show: Brain expert says administration figures who ‘can’t recall’ might be lying (video)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Wednesday August 15, 2007

Jon Stewart on Monday’s Daily Show showed a series of clips of various administration figures saying “I don’t recall” when asked to respond to questions.

What would explain this epidemic of memory loss in the executive branch?” he asked, introducing the Director of the Center for Brain Health at New York University School of Medicine, Dr. Mony De Leon.

“The brain is a complex organ,” said De Leon. “Stress is a very big factor in recall.”

“Why are they all catching it?” asked Stewart. “Could it be a virus of some sort? Some sort of administrative herpes?”

“Certainly the issue of truthfulness is very important in terms of recalling,” said De Leon,

“You think they’re lying?” asked Stewart.

“It’s a possibility,” said De Leon.

The following video is from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast on August 13.

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

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LINK

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Colbert: Why not go all the way and make Gonzales robo-cop? (video)

Dandelion Salad

David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Published: Thursday August 16, 2007

With Alberto Gonzalez under fire from all sides in Washington, Stephen Colbert said Wednesday that the beleaguered attorney general’s problem is a common one to bright-but-slacking underachievers everywhere: he’s just not being challenged. Continue reading