Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The hidden story on `Lawyergate'


Like the Valerie Plame case, the current flap over the perfectly legal firing of political appointees by the Bush Administration seems a ridiculous excuse for the amount of press and virulence its generating..to the point that I wasn't even going to dignify it by mentioning it.

However, recent developments have sparked my interest, to say the least.

By this time, the details are pretty well known. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discharged a number of US attorneys for various reasons and appointed others in their stead. Like cabinet officers, (including Gonzales) these US attorneys are political appointees who serve at the pleasure of the president and can be discharged for any reason whatsoever. And Gonzales was undoubtedly following orders, which is what cabinet officers do.

No problem...except that the president has once more allowed his administration to be maneuvered into playing defense, with a number of consequences.

The first of these, and one of the main objects of the entire attack was the weakening of the Patriot Act. Yesterday, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to revoke the authority they had granted the administration last year to install federal prosecutors indefinitely without Senate confirmation. This is the beginning of that process.

As I predicted months ago, the democrat controlled Congress will continue to undermine the Act as time goes on..and we are already seeing congressional investigations of NSC and FBI surveillance on terrorist and Islamist suspects in action sparked by the House Judiciary Committee headed by none other than John Conyers (d-MI) one of the most CAIR friendly congressmen in Washington and one who favors leaving no stone unturned when it comes to trying to impeach President Bush.

The attack on the Bush Administration continued with that
same House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee asking for and receiving over 3,000 pages of White house e-mails, an obvious attempt to find a smoking gun of some sort that the Bush Administration chose to cooperate with for some reason. As ex-House Majority leader Tom DeLay said when asked about it "This is nothing but a fishing expedition, and now the Administration's giving them something to fish with."

President Bush's expression of `displeasure' in Attorney General Gonzales for a couple of days because he followed orders didn't help matters, nor did strong rumors that the Bush Administration was looking for a successor and planning to throw him overboard, The president's phone call to Gonzales to reassure him stopped most of the rumors , but the damage to Gonzales' position was already done.

The e-mails and President Bush's expression of confidence in Gonzales didn't do anything to satisfy the hunger of the piranas in the Washington jungle.

Both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees wanted Karl Rove, ex-White House Counsel Harriet Miers and other White House Officials to testify under oath in Congress, with no holds barred about what questions could be asked. And when the Bush Administration countered by offering to allow them to be interviewed privately and not under oath, the congressional committees rejected the offer and subpoenas were issued.

This is a straight forward challenge to the executive branch and an attack on the Bush presidency, and he finally seems to have woken up to that reality. Bush said he would resist any attempt to put his top aides under "the klieg lights" in "show trials" on Capitol Hill.

"We will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants," the president told reporters in a brief and hastily convened appearance in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. He vowed to fight the subpoenas in court.

Like many of the other partisan attacks on the president, this one is largely a matter of creating the perception of wrongdoing rather than the reality...because the reality is that the White House can likely stonewall the subpoenas for the rest of the president's second term.

However, as grandma used to say, it leaves a bad smell in the air...and just might lead to confrontations in other areas, especially with long time Bush haters John Conyers and Patrick Leahy in charge of the House and Senate judiciary.

If this does accelerate and go further before Bush is out of office, the congressional judiciary committees would have to decide whether to issue contempt of Congress citations, which the full Senate and House would need to approve.

And in the event that happens, Congress would enlist a presidential appointee, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia to impanel a grand jury to seek the indictment of administration officials over their refusal to testify!

Stay tuned....

3 comments:

Jon said...

Isn't the big deal not about the actual firing but mainly because they were seemingly fired for refusing to indict Democrats on corruption charges (as one of the fired US Attorneys claims: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/opinion/21iglesias.html?ex=1332129600&en=a621cdbf2769b78f&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink)
According to the op-ed, the fired for performance reasoning is not true, and the administration would have been better off not giving any reason why they were fired.

While I agree that US Attorneys are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the President, if the failure to go after Democrats is the real reason for the firing, it doesn't really give me a lot of confidence that the Executive Branch is going to use its enforcement powers properly. Whether or not the US attorneys should even be political appointees is another question (although I don't really see how we could come up with a good non-partisan appointment method).

Hopefully this doesn't turn into another Valerie Plame cover-up circus and that the Democrats will rise above the partisan bickering and get something done.

Provident 360 said...

Revelation 13:5 - Are we in this 42 month period?

Freedom Fighter said...

Hi Jon,
Ummmm, I usually don't hold what the NYT says in much repute, to be honest.

It actually doesn't matter why they were fired, in my view. They serve at the pleasure of the president, plain and simple, and can be dismissed if they look at him cross-eyed or wear a tie he doesn't approve of.

I DO agree, as I stated that the Bush Administration allowed itself to be manipulated into a poor position - same old same old!

It'll be interesting to see what happens.

Provident, thanks for adding a spiritual element to this post.

ff