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April 20, 2007


Shorter Coburn: Here's the sword, jump on it, and we'll go back to business as usual after we bury the body and wash our hands.

Once again, Marcy, you nailed it. Always pays to take any show of responsibility by these thugs as a smokescreen. That same phrase about "political nature" jumped out at me too. Like, give me a break.

Well, there's still the prospect of immunizing Monica Goodling and getting some kind of testimony out of her.
And within the Justice Department -- the career guys that "Walrus" Gonzales "wept for" yesterday are, I think, trying to figure every possible way to get out the story of the politicization of the civil-service folks and their work.
And deleting all the emails in the world, behaving like well-intentioned idiots and pretending not to remember won't stop those career civil servants.

So everyone in the justice dept. testified that they don't know how the names got on the list, who put them there, who came up with the dismissal plan, and why they were ultimately fired. Apparently they all testified that they don't know who came up with the plan for circumventing the senate confirmation process either. Correct me if I'm wrong but the only person left to testify from DOJ is Monica Goodling whose job title was liason to the white house. Therefore by deduction we can only presume that it has to be the white house that came up with all of this. There is virtually no one else left to blame. Is this as simple as it looks or am I missing something?

I have been trying to figure out what Gonzales' mindframe would be if he is cut loose. For a lawyer of truly no apparent skills, he has never had a bump in his amazing road to fame and fortune. He clearly did not spend his formative days as a youth inured to the outlook of power and greed. The Borg ethos changes when suddenly cut off from the collective. What are the thoughts around here on the chances of flipping Gonzales if he is removed from AG?

I have to agree with you entirely, Marcy. We can't let this whole thing blow over with the firing or resignation of Gonzales, or else the Rove takeover of the DOJ will remain a fait accompli. The Democrats have to keep this issue in the open until the Maladministration either caves in or grows so frustrated that it commits some public action so egregious that even the networks and the WaPo can't ignore it.

Even if the Congress has to go on a full-time basis without even a day's recess, it must not let a replacement be named for Gonzales. And it must continue to dog any acting AG with constant, real-time oversight

Here we have the attorney general of the United States of America lying for hours on end to protect his mentor and the mentor's goons who used him to undermine this democracy, and the only way we can be rid of him is if he resigns or his feckless leader fires him. Of course, the republics want him gone but only to keep him and their greedy old party out of the news. Their jokester Graham chalked the whole thing up to personality conflicts among the DOJ and the fired help. And like you say, these folks didn't scream uncle until they were experiencing what their administration has heaped on so many nonbelievers.

You are probably right, but I have a hard time convincing myself that anybody in the Cult of Bush is looking forward to confirmation hearings for a new AG. Any choice that can get confirmed will result in many in the Cult of Bush going to jail, and any choice that would not result in prosecutions could not get confirmed. Altho time may be on their side on that one, how many republicans are going to be willing to leave that spot vacant for a year and a half?

My outside-the-Beltway perspective is that both Dems and Reps have a standard game that they are playing, at all times with everybody: "You pretend to be honest, and I pretend to believe what you say, until you say something so obviously wrong that I look like an idiot if I act like I believe it."

Outside the Beltway, in the reality-based community, we are all Jon Stewart, rolling our eyes and saying WTF.

I agree with your analysis that Gonzales executed the administration's game plan of stonewalling and concealing.

I think that the Dems can go on offense using Schumer's formulation that since Gonzales is demonstrating that he did not initiate or cause anything in the DOJ, the source of the decision making could only have been the White House.

No doubt Gonzales' top job in his utterly disgraceful performance yesterday - nicely parsed here! - was to protect the White House. But I'm not even yet convinced that the plan is for Gonzales to be fired.

I honestly could not believe the degree to which he disclaimed almost any independent memory of anything. If it wasn't in the documents, he had almost no memory, according to his testimony. What a disgrace he is.

I'm still keeping my eye on the Fitzgerald business, which only came up with Durbin. Here's a question: what does Gonzales' recusal mean? Would it be perfectly appropriate for a recused AG to discuss with Bush and/or Rove, or anyone in the White House, the prospect of firing Fitzgerald, or not?

Perhaps if the discussion were limited to firing him as US Attorney, but not per se as special prosecutor, although as I read Fitzgerald's appointment, it is keyed to being a DoJ employee. As I recall from the Sampson hearing, Specter or Hatch or someone sought to suggest that even if Fitzgerald had been fired as US Attorney, he could have continued as special prosecutor. However, i believe the idea is that he would have to be effectively reappointed under a different part of the US Code. So the point is that an affirmative act would have to be undertaken by the administration, it wouldn't just happen. But I could be wrong on all or some of this.

For several reasons, it's essential that Gonzales be removed. If that happens with Republicans still attempting to deny any politicization or obstruction in the firings, it just means there's more work to do for the majority. Gonzo being ousted and replaced with someone with a modicum of integrity is the first order of business.

Republicans like Coburn making these statements about the absence of impropriety aren't elaborating with any facts. Based on Gonzales' and Sampson's public testimony alone, Coburn can get away with his remarks. If and when we hear about the substance of committee's private interviews with other DoJ officials held under wraps, to the extent that Rove and the WH was revealed to be involved, it would then be more interesting to ask Mr. Coburn how he could have made the statements he made yesterday.

The Gonazalez Strategy maybe just a reworking of the Rumsfield Strategy? Rove always likes going back to the same playbook. Remember when the 2006 election was coming up? Rumsfield was about as popular as snow in January and everyone and their brother was taking pot shots at him? I think that strategy is in play again. Even faux Democrats like Lieberman were being encouraged to call for Rumsfields resignation. Why not? It was a done deal.

Abu Gonzalez gets to hang around and be the new punching bag.

You may be right that the game is to get him fired, but I think his testimony made it so clear that the WH is running the show at DoJ that the Senate Judiciary Committee will be obligated to pursue the WH involvement in all of this whether Abu resigns or not. I think that was the key yesterday. Sen. Feinstein made it very clear that no one at DoJ made the list. Sen. Whitehouse brilliantly illustrated how the barriers have been completely removed between the DoJ and the WH. I think this is why Schumer was so delighted at the end of the day. Rather than giving testimony that showed the Senators that there were no more loose ends to uncover, he basically told them they were looking in the wrong place all along. As with everything else in this administration, all the scandalous roads lead to Rove and Cheney, the epicenter of the WH.

Gonzales made it clear yesterday that he will not resign. Bush will not fire him, because they cannot afford to have a non-Bushie AG, and the Senate will not confirm a Bushie. But even if I'm wrong about that, I cannot see Sen. Leahy ending the investigation if the AG resigns or not. As he said yesterday, we cannot allow the DoJ to become a political arm of the White House. I don't think what happens to Gonzales matters now as far as the investigation is concerned. It matters from the point of view of restoring the proper functioning of the DoJ, but I don't see how they can stop the investigation now.

lizard and Muzzy

You both raise a really important point about what happens post-AGAG (and I'm not sure AGAG's firing is going to happen immediately, but I do believe he'll be gone, if only because Bush can't afford a big revolt from the Coburns of the world).

And I guess an underlying part of the Gonzales strategy--and a reason the Republican Senators seemt to want this to happen NOW as opposed to after Bush stews on it for a while--is to ensure some new shill can be appointed, someone like Ted Olson or Laurence Silberman (though they probably won't appoint Silberman before he finds a way to overturn Libby's guilty verdicts). Part of the Republican strategy is to have this replacement battle from a position of relative strength, before Republicans have gotten so strident in their criticism that they admit to a REAL change at DOJ. So far, they're just calling for someone who can carry out politicization more effectively, not any real change.

Just a quick correction. In the above posts, Muzzy should be dotsright and vice versa. I totally agree with Muzzy's point and it was much more elegantly stated than my own but I don't want to take credit for something I actually didn't say.

I was rather alarmed the first time I posted here and it appeared under someone else's name. Is this a "feature" of the typepad interface? :-)

This is only my third post and I am curious to see whose name it will appear under.

Improper! Improper! A pox on this semantic equivalent of a greased pig! All I hear is that nothing "improper" was behind the firings. Improper is a smoke-screen. It is just imprecise enough, and relative enough, to allow the right to characterize the firings as "nothing improper". Who, after all, decides what's 'suitable', or 'right', or 'appropriate'? Trust the lawyers to employ a term that allows for so much without saying anything at all. Hell, they might as well be saying that nothing "untoward" took place, or that, in the end the firings were undertaken for "personnel reasons." Nothing says "nothing" like 'nothing'.

Improper: adj.
1) not suitable or right or appropriate; "slightly improper to dine alone with a married man"; "improper medication"
2) not conforming to legality, moral law, or social convention; "an unconventional marriage"; "improper banking practices"
3) unsuitable: not appropriate for a purpose or occasion; "unsuitable attire for the office"; "said all the wrong things"

I have three things to say:

1. The plan to fire the USAs was run like a gangster hitlist. It wasn't performance: the statistics that Sampson had on caseloads showed Carol Lam's immigration record was the median in a sample of 5. The performance of Johnny Sutton, USA for West TX, was worse in all metrics. All Gonzo said yesterday was that there were "complaints". This wasn't an HR pruning of deadwood, this was all about favors, influence, and Mr. Numbers at the WH.

2. If Gonzo doesn't go, any Presidential candidate who doesn't have a credible plan to resurrect the DOJ should be regarded as a complete timewaster. The fish will rot from the head.

3. Pelosi-Murtha '07: I'd like to see Pelosi and Murtha making a play for cleaning up justice. Let's really scare the Goopers.

Several people are accusing the Maladministration of politicizing the DOJ. Every President has politicized his administration in one way or another, in order to carry out his priorities.I think it would be far more accurate to say they are criminalizing the Department, for what they have done is to meddle in the Civil Service and turn every organ of the government into an arm of the Republican agenda--unlimited control over the functions of government to enrich themselves personally and enhance their power. All the extra-legal powers that Bush-Cheney-Rove (as one entity) has claimed are aimed at only one goal--the "permanent Republican majority."

I doubt very seriously that Coburn's comments were sincere. Gonzo is an easy whipping boy right now. Coburn is pretending to be interested in real oversight as a proxy for the rest of his rubber stampers. Coburn is as big a bushie as they get, so you can bet he got his stings blessed ahead of time. I fully agree that they are trying to legitimize the method of firing, they'll be singing witch hunt again by the end of next week.

Gonzo over and over again would not remember then say "looking at the documents... it seems there was a meeting blah, blah" I kept wanting someone to say which document, which document are you reffering to now?

I doubt this did Gonzo in. He's holding up as a fire wall, and he'll stay put as long as he's succeding in that capacity. Bush and Co don't care how bad they look, and this is providing the Republicans in congress with a little dog and pony show of pretend rhetoric against the administration. It works for them at the moment.

notjonathon - I agree with your thought wholeheartedly; but semantics aside, the actions they have taken, for the most part (who knows what time will reveal with these clowns) are not technically criminal. They are unethical, immoral, improper, undemocratic, and a complete bastardization of the hallowed process, but not necessarily criminal. I almost, to some extent, think it plays into their hands and strategy for us to call it criminal at this point. I agree with your concept totally; but until we can prove criminal we need a different term to contrast with theirs. I don't know what that term is, maybe "unethical and immoral manipulation". Thoughts?

bmaz - That's exactly what they are saying with their nothing improper business. Until the documents, emails, etc are found they will gleefully say bs to the reason for the investigation. They constantly say there is not a shred of evidence when the whole bloody mess looks like a RICO issue. And, while they are stalling, the key facts will just keep disappearing into the shredder, smelter, or grave.

Unethical, unprofessional, outside traditional norms and putting party above country and truth. The latter two are nothing new. But see this article for interesting backstory on Schumer and a contrast with Reagan's Justice Dept, which had less ethics than this crowd.

Didn't you also sense, in the tone of the questioning, that the Republican Senators know that the whole kleptocracy is about to collapse? And that with it, they will all fall down, too?

Can you imagine that conference call beforehand, where they all sat around figuring out who was clean enough to ask Tom Coburn's question? Seriously, Tom Coburn?

I don't know what that term is, maybe "unethical and immoral manipulation". Thoughts?

I agree that finding the right term for what they've been up to would help. When we say 'criminal' and it's not strictly criminal, it begins a semantics ping pong game that's a distraction and only helps them.

What they've been doing with DOJ isn't criminal but its purpose is to enable criminals. Republican criminals. Past criminals... abramoff, cunningham, and the others Carol Lam was investigating, and future criminals.

Simply put, Bush and friends want to remake the justice department so they can operate without fear of criminal investigation.

Abu wasn't singing the Daisy song from 2001, so he isn't being unplugged quite yet. However, he was just as desperate to keep his mission alive. Did you watch his hands?

Any reasonable person would have stepped down and rappeared somewhere else in the Administration (Rummy still has a nice office at the Pentagon, salary, and half dozen assistants). Abu's body language says that he needs to keep his position, because something isn't finished yet. While he is "working to restore trust", he'll be enabling something else. After torture and rendition, illegal wiretaps, collection of all data into the TIA (under a new disguise), repeal of habeas corpus, and turning the DoJ into a temple to Bush as God's Annointed, you have to wonder what part of his job isn't quite finished!

Was he promised the role of Chief Judge and Executioner when Bush assumes the Crown?

Or, does he need to guide more cases towards the overthrow of Roe v Wade?

Bush said that he intends to work to the very last day getting his policies implmented, and Abu has been by his side for decades. My nose says that there is still something heinous being worked on, and Abu must be there to enable it.

Hi EW,

Excellent postings today. The comments are also enlightening.

I'm surpised by how poorly the Democratic Consultants and some of Clinton's former DOJ people address this issue on the "talk" shows. I've seen several of them say that there is nothing criminal in politicizing the Justice Department and that it's clear Gonzales is guilty of mismanagement but admit that there are no underlying crimes. It's curious how they fail to grasp the significace of this whole DOJ mess, a mess that is the direct result of the Attorney General of the United States enabling the politcal wing of the White House (Karl Rove et al.) in making the DOJ just another arm of the Bush-Rove Republican party and using the long arm of the Federal Justice system to surreptitiously effect political objectives.

Prevaricating bumbler, lying incompetent, stonewalling subverter or obstructing managerial malingerer? You decide. But one thing is clearly evident from his (Gonzales') performance, the Attorney General of the United States, the chief law enforcement official of the country, went before Congress on Thursday and unleashed a volley of convenient and self-serving memory lapses and failures to recall when key decisions were made, who was involved in making them and how they were made so as to establish a clear pattern that went beyond stonewalling and into the realm of obstruction. His evasive, indirect or unresponsive replies to questions, together with his memory lapses, blocked the Judiciary Committee from learning the truth about what happened. This is classic obstruction. Gonzales may have avoided committing perjury that day but he had to resort to obstruction to do it. But by describing a feckless Justice Department, he made it all the more important to ask the key questions of who, when and how to the President's team in the White House.

I'm sure that a lot of insider traders and other white collar criminals are taking notes on how to escape the consequences of their actions if caught. They should conveniently have a massive lack of memory and suddenly forget what they knew when and how they knew it. It is said that the wheels of justice grind slowly but surely, but Attorney General Gonzales is demonstrating that the wheels of justice are removed for top Bush Administration officials and have been packed away in tupperware boxes to be stored in the dark recesses of moldy closets soon to be forgotten.

Why politization of the Justice Department matters. In that Grand Experiment we call democracy, "we the people" consented to be governed in a representative form of government because we were promised and provided an independent and fair system of justice to protect our inalienable rights. Democracies lose their legitimacy when an independent and fair system of justice has been corrupted by those in power. If the administration of justice is subject to the whims of the ruling elite then how will the U.S. be different from Putin's Russia? Instead of being subject to the rule of law, if politization is allowed to stand, we will become subject, under the law, to the political whims of the ruling political class and their enablers. Isn't this exactly what Senator Domenici attempted to do in New Mexico, to use the long arm of the federal justice system to effect beneficial political objectives?

The end game may not be in sight yet, but surely there must be severe consequences for an Attorney General of the United States who obstructs an investigation and by doing so enables a coverup of what is at minimum a subversion of our system of government itself and a severing of the great democratic promise to "we the people who consented to be governed" for a fair and independent system of justice in exchange for our consent.

"going down in flames
not doing himself any favors
clubbing a baby seal
under the bus
handled it badly
blithering idiot"


Strange the mix of words Marcy uses, but in the end she is obliged to give credit where credit is due.

Gonzales obviously can do the job if he has prepared properly.

One time I was given a demonstration, where my mouth dropped open and I instantly (figuratively) reached for the check book and gained control of what became a very sucessful project.

A short time later during a conference call, I told my boss and the directors that "just because an idea seems crazy, and you don't understand it right away, doesn't mean that the idea is stupid. Perhaps it means you are stupid."

My boss said later that I was correct, "but still don't call the directors stupid again.".

And I ask a question again that I asked this group before.

During all the commotion, did anyone see where the rabbit in the hat ran to?

Shorter Gozales, he's good. There are any number of incompetents who serve Bush. Brownie for example. Lots of candidates, few survive. Gonzales is actually good at what he was hired to do.

Burn him.

Gonzales obviously can do the job if he has prepared properly.

Jodi, this is genuinely embarrassing for you. You used to sort of pretend you were some kind of progressive or Democrat who was just being thoughtful. But now you're just embarrassing yourself as you show there is no depth of depravity the Bush administration could sink to that you would not seek to defend.

Gonzales' performance yesterday was nothing short of a disgrace and an embarrassment. He is, after all, the head of the Department of Justice. The fact that he performed a particular function - protecting the White House - well in no way takes away from the simple fact that his was a truly disgraceful performance of historic proportions. His job is to be the Attorney General of the United States. At that job he has shown himself to utterly incapable and worse. It is not his job to be a strictly political firewall for the President of the United States and his White House staff.

The fact that you seem unable to grasp this simple point is indicative of the corruption of your perspective.


I am what I have always been. A conservative who usually votes Republican, but sometimes Democratic, and hates Bush, and particularly this war he has bungled.

Nowdays I am showing more of an edge than I did when I was here before to check on the Wilson-Plame-Rove junk, and stayed for the Libby trial.

That is because when I came back here and contributed some to the email/technology/communication discussion, I was treated rudely and crappily by many.

Everything I have said is honest and heartfelt.
The change is that whereas I used to deliberately not react to the crap, I react some now.

I still don't attack the people personally. And I only use the names other people call me around their own names.

Actually I am probably one of the more decent human beings here. Most people here are fine when it is all high fives, and yea, we are going to hang Rove and Bush, but give them a different opinion, and they get very nasty real quick.

I didn't really expect the "nice humane Democrats" to get so nasty so quick. Even gentle genteel Sara thought about sentencing Libby to 40 years to force him to say what she wanted him to say, and even toyed with the idea of hanging little Jodi like Lord HA HA.

Absolutely amazing!!


Since you declined to address the subtance of my response on Gonzales, let me just say this: my advice to you is to practice a little self-reflection. You've got the characteristic conservative's sense of victimization down pat. But you'd really do better to give a little more thought - which is to say, apparently, any at all - to your own role in your interactions with others here. The lack of such thought is, again, rather embarrassing.

And any time you want to explain that you do in fact appreciate the difference between Gonzales' actual job and what he did well at his disgraceful performance the other day, feel free.

Someone else thinks that Gonzales was, um, illuminating. :)

In a sense, by listening to Gonzales, we are not just hearing answers, we are being given the opportunity to enter into the information that will also help us to achieve enlightenment--help us to become one with the truth as he sees it. And what is that truth? That there is no untruth, only the appearance of untruth. If we do not see this, it is not because we see a different truth than the truth presented, but because we are not yet educated and informed as to the one true truth.


His Tao of Gonzo fits so nicely with the religious makeover of the DoJ. Pity that it isn't the same religion. ;^)


I answered the first paragraph of your comment that started off with "Jodi."

The simple point I was making above is that everyone here thinks of Gonzales as inept, and makes fun of his school, but there he is in the middle of the barn fire having a good (for his and Bush's purpose) performance. Even Marcy who had a lot of bad to say about him, comes away saying essentially that he was brilliant.

I played ball in high school and college. I always give credit to my opponent when and if she beats me or just gives a good game. I appreciate that Marcy did likewise for Gonzales.

Now Jeff if you want to talk about issues that the DOJ was involved in. Fine. But above I was critiquing a man's performance under fire.

About the 8 State Attorneys. Nothing wrong there that I can see, except that they were diss'ed by the Administration. That happens a lot in personnel offices.
As others have said before I, the 8 should have been patted on the back, told that their services were no longer needed, but that they would get a fine recommendation , and they were to be given a few months to find another job.
Now they may be able to sue for defamation. After all they are attorneys.

Of course I agree Gonzales blew his impromptu press conference, and he doesn't come across very well on TV. And his subordinates blew the handling of the personnel issue. (I wonder if some of that was deliberate.) But when the stakes were high, when the daggers were lifted high and poised, when the game was at stake, little Gonzales did his job.

((Marcy saw it. Why can't you?))

As for the charge of Politics being involved in the issue. Of course it was. Every US attorney is selected or deselected because of Politics. I am sure that I don't have to remind you of previous administrations' track record.

Let me make one other point as to the issue. Much has been made that all the attorneys were considered for removal, though only 8 were. And that at one time there were lists of attorneys as large as 90+ and as little as 1. And NOW there are demands to know what criteria was used for each list, and who did what, etc., etc.

So what? So what? So what? So what?

Are all Democrats and liberal bloggers so enthralled with the great Holy Grail of getting Karl Rove under oath, under the TV lights, on transcript, etc. and this is the single largest driving force for their actions?
Frankly I think that Karl Rove isn't going to be caught by beginners like on those Senate and House committees. Fitz came up on him in surprise, by saying that the task was to find out who had outed a covert agent, and then did a compare on all the testimony to see who could be charged with telling two stories, and Karl Rove still came out fine.

Now he is ready.

If of course Rove can be shown to have some sickness like Clinton had for sex, then that changes my opinion. If Rove has that kind of pathological problem, then like Clinton, he won't be able to help himself. But thus far, no one has brought anything up. What do you have in mind Jeff?


You seem to be suffering from a fundamental misunderstanding. I don't think anyone is doubting that Gonzales is good at something. It's the proper job of Attorney General that he's inept at.

Your seeming inability to understand the distinction at issue, as well as your utterly perverted system of judgment, don't give me much hope that you're ever going to get the very rudimentary and very egregious violations Gonzales has committed. And why do you think no one, but no one, apart from the White House, is coming to his defense? Why do you think the Republicans are almost as dismayed at his performance as the Demcorats?


he is good at doing what his boss wants him to. If he was going to set a separate pace and tone in the DOJ, he would be gone.

The Republicans are dismayed that he botched some PR events and made a mountain out of a mole hill.

The things you are thinking about as such terrible actions such as NSA spying, torture, Gitmo, FBI security letters are not very important to the Republicans.

Sure you and I could go into the nitty gritty and dissect the various subjects and each tell the other what was ok, and what was not, but that is not what is playing in Washington, D.C. So I don't bother.

What I do grieve for is this war, which will not end with Americans coming home in 6 months or two years. I grieve for the lives that Bush has squandered, and that will continue to to be squandered even after Bush is no longer President.

I grieve for my brother.

After that I don't have much left. Not much at all, Jeff.

: (

he is good at doing what his boss wants him to. If he was going to set a separate pace and tone in the DOJ, he would be gone.

Clarity. This shows that you have a completely corrupted view of the Department of Justice, as well as the administration of justice. I suggest that only some of your fellow Republicans are dismayed only because he botched some PR events. Some of them have the decency to be dismayed at his performance as Attorney General.

It's too bad too that you seem to suffer from the ability only really to be reflective about things that touch you closely. Do you seriously think the Iraq War is some kind of one-off, quirky thing that is isolated from the rest of Bush's conduct and exercise of judgment?

Jeff you are myopic.

Of course we talk about the things that are most important to us, and that are the paramount issues confronting us.

As for the Republicans, those things I mentioned are not so important because they are happy with the way things are going.

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