Friday, June 15, 2007

Bush stonewalls, then blames Democrats

I've become a big fan of Dan Froomkin.

President Bush last month complained that the congressional probes into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys were being "drug out . . . for political reasons." White House spokesman Tony Snow yesterday dismissed the issuance of congressional subpoenas to two former White House aides as an attempt to "create some media drama."

But if anyone is to blame for the dragging out of the probes and the drama, it's Bush himself. He and his aides have consistently refused to tell the American people why those federal prosecutors were fired....

If Bush wants this media drama to go away -- and if there is, in fact, an innocent explanation for the firings -- then it's in his best interest to come clean, in public, and sooner rather than later. Why wait for a congressional hearing?

The stonewalling looks like it will have another effect, too -- provoking a constitutional confrontation between the White House and Congress over Congress' ability to subpoena senior aides. This isn't a purely partisan faceoff -- Republican Arlen Specter, for instance, supports yesterday's subpoenas of Harriet Miers and Sara Taylor. If neither side backs down, the validity of those subpoenas could be decided in court.

Meanwhile, Slate is retiring its Gonzometer, conceding Alberto Gonzales' remarkable staying power despite revelations such as these:

Not much good is happening inside the Justice Department, either. Monday's Washington Post revealed that, thanks to Gonzales and Co., a shocking number of the nation's newest immigration judges are a bunch of GOP hacks. Yesterday, Bradley Schlozman, the former U.S. attorney for Kansas City who brought voter-fraud indictments against a liberal group just four days before the November 2006 election, in violation of department policy, wrote to Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., to "clarify" that when he testified 10 times last week that he had been "directed" to bring such indictments by the Election Crimes Branch of the DoJ's Public Integrity Section, he really meant that in fact he had never been directed to do so at all.

The immigration judge story is yet another example of the extent to which the Bush administration has politicized the functioning of the executive branch, in defiance of both tradition and (in some cases) the law.

The Schlozman embarrassment is also just another in a long line of instances where Justice officials (led by Gonzales) said one thing under oath, only to say the opposite later on.

And that doesn't even count the internal Justice Department probe into whether Gonzales tried to influence Monica Goodling's testimony about the prosecutor firings.

The prize for Gonzales' and Bush's steadfastness: continued embarassing revelations, destruction of Bush's political relevance and a dysfunctional Justice Department. Yay team!!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salon is retiring its Gonzometer....
You mean Slate ?
Gonzometer, has provided some great fun. I cant blame them for retiring it though.

6/15/2007 1:55 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Oops! Fixed.

6/15/2007 2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll save you some time and the Congress some more of our tax dollars: they were replaced because the Bush administration WANTED them replaced. And that's the ONLY reason needed. End of story.


6/15/2007 2:48 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

JP5: Except there are impermissible reasons for such firings. Such as attempting to influence elections or deliberately target Democrats.

In addition, one of the weirdest things about the whole case is how nobody has stepped forward to explain how the list of those to be fired was assembled and approved. If Bush said "I fired them", that would help. But he hasn't. Kyle Sampson, who assembled the list, can't recall who he collected names from. It's like the list magically appeared through some form of group osmosis with nobody actually responsible for it, with no discernible criteria that holds water -- except for those impermissible political ones.

Then you start getting into the lies to Congress, conflicting stories, fingerpointing and it seems pretty clear either a coverup or extreme incompetence is at work.

6/15/2007 3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Except there are impermissible reasons for such firings. Such as attempting to influence elections or deliberately target Democrats."

No proof of that. There were plenty of Democrats who could have been "targeted" but who were not. Some of them were Bush's own nominees to start with.

Concerning the list....I believe Sampson DID get into that. Current and former Justice officials said that Sampson consulted with, among others, Michael Battle, head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys–who has now resigned–and his predecessor, Mary Beth Buchanan, as well as then Deputy Attorney General James Comey. He also said that sometimes suggestions for who to replace came from other local officials. It wasn't that they called him and said, "you need to replace so-and-so." But if there were negative comments about the job they were doing, they'd go on the list. Sometimes, they came back off the list later. Remember---some wanted to replace all 93, but that idea was rejected. Then it was culled down to 26---then the 13 that finally got replaced.

If you're saying that paying attention to the issue of possible voter fraud was an attempt to "influence elections"....then you are saying, in effect, that it was only Democrats who were committing voter fraud. After all, it's what this administration promised to do---and it's also what Democrat leaders said they wanted done as well. Guess they didn't mean it.


6/15/2007 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This Bradley Schlozman attorney is Exhibit #1 for the reason even MORE of these attorneys should have been replaced.


6/15/2007 9:41 PM  

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