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May 20, 2007


after all--it took getting Bush alone before he and Mueller could convince Bush that he had to change the domestic spying program.

I don't think Bush was "convinced" of anything, per Comey's testimony...

It was a very full exchange. And at the end of that meeting, at my urging, he met with Director Mueller, who was waiting for me downstairs....We had a full and frank discussion, very informed. He was very focused. Then Director Mueller met with the president alone. I wasn't there. Director Mueller carried to me the president's direction that we do what the Department of Justice wanted done to put this on a sound legal footing.

The phrases "very full exchange" and "full and frank discussion" are euphemisms for "heated argument" or "shouting match." Bush met with Comey to give him a dressing down, and Comey told him to fuck off -- and that he had the FBI backing him. So Bush calls in Mueller, tries the same crap on him, and gets the same response.

I strongly suspect that the program could not go forward with FBI approval/acquiescence (it did, after all, involve domestic spying which is FBI turf), and Mueller told Bush flat out that the FBI would not co-operate without DoJ approval (and I suspect that Mueller had the rest of the FBI leadership behind HIM), regardless of what Bush had signed off on. It was only at that point, when Bush was presented with a fait-accompli, that he got "convinced" to do the right thing.

Bush may not be the brightest guy, but he at least understood the PR disaster that would result in mass firings/resignations at Justice and the FBI.

p luk

I didn't say he had convinced Bush he was wrong. I said he convinced Bush he had to change the program. Different thing. "Had" may imply he "had to" for moral reasons or for the very practical (and more likely) reasons you list.

Challenging a costitutional abuse is not being a "closet liberal."

It is being an American.

It would be nice to see WaPo try it some time.

I am certain that when we know the full extent of this, we will find out that whatever it was that Comey, Ashcroft and Mueller had problems with, it was something that all of us good liberals are going to be embarassed about lauding them for. I suspect that it will have something to do with trampling the privacy rights of LARGE CORPORATIONS rather than the civil liberties of individuals. These guys laid down and watched (or stepped forward and applauded) while our rights were stripped from us. There is NO WAY Ashcroft was going to resign over a simple breach of individual privacy, but I suspect he wouold fling himself headlong in the way of any number of moving trains to defend the "rights" of corporate donors to the Conservative cause.

Conservatives have lost their way following Bush toward ever increasing lawlessness in governing the country. In defending the indefensible, Bush and Rove attack critics of illegal policies as liberals and conservative critics as closet liberals. The threatening legacy of the Bush presidency is that it leaves so many illegal and unconstitutional policies in place, unchallenged and without consequence.

Fascinating. So as soon as Ashcroft resigns, Gonzales is in; the same guy that tried to take advantage of Ashcroft in the hospital to sign off on the Mystery Program. So we can assume the program(s) have been fully underway since November 2004 when AGAG took over? And yet, since that time, things have fallen apart and the center is certainly not holding. So...perhaps we are correct in our speculation over the past few weeks that AGAG and the Admin are just as effective managing these programs as they are managing Iraq and Katrina?
I think, this being Sunday and all, I'll light a candle toward that thought...
Lizard, I have no doubt you are speaking truth about the priority of corporate privacy to this gang of thugs, but I also am struck by the broad range of people ready to resign in a show of force. There is, I believe, a core of constitutional integrity that runs through the best of our civil servants, from the oath a kid takes when entering the military (one of those moments I'll remember forever) to the commitment public servants and managers assume when they take their offices. I wonder, idealist that I am, that perhaps Ashcroft, Mueller, Comey, and the rest were pushed beyond the edge of acceptability and dug in their heels on the basis of their core beliefs. Maybe.

I'd also have preferred that Baker & Schmidt fleshed out Corallo's "backstab him any more" comment. As it is, it's left hanging. They describe conflict within the Administration, but not the previous experiences of backstabbing that left Ashcroft so extraordinarily wary.

You don't have to think Ashcroft, Comey et al. are "closet liberals" to think they do believe the Constitution should be defended and protected, and take seriously their oaths of office to defend and protect.

They're what you might call real conservatives: their positions on a lot of issues would likely be anathema to us (and ours to them), but they have definite limits on how far they're willing to go to enact/enforce those positions. What the law and the Constitution allow is that limit. As Albert Fall said, that's not a matter of ideology; it's just plain Americanism.

It needs to be remembered, and pointed out, that Bush-Cheney's usurpation of power goes far beyond "judicial activism" that conservatives always whine about: they have been outright renegades, ignoring the Constitution and the laws altogether. You don't have to be a "liberal" to be appalled by that, nor to (as Ashcroft, Mueller and Comey did) threaten to resign over it. The people who were fired or resigned during Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre weren't liberals, either (by the standards of that time): they were Nixon's own appointees who, like Bush's appointees, put their oaths of office and duty to country above Party.

The timing of all this is interesting: it seems that the 2004 elections, and Gonzales' confirmation as AG, were not only the points at which the DoJ became a Bush loyalist chop-shop, but also the point at which those mysterious surveillance programs were finally reviewed by someone who knew what the law was and what the programs actually entailed. This is actually a little reassuring, since the worst of the damage might not have started until Gonzales' accession.

Until reading this it never would have occurred to me to consider Ashcroft as anything other than an authoritarian nut job. My take on the Comey testimony was that, even though he and Ashcroft were jackboots who put the quest for power above respect for the law, Gonzo was worse.

But what I find really interesting is that Gonzo not only approved (and even pushed) things that Ashcroft would not, but that Bush / Cheney asked for things that EVEN GONZO wouldn't sign off on:


Yikes! If we peel this onion just two or three more layers we'll find Cheney pushing for some idea and Satan himself baulking and saying "Whoa, slow down there cowboy. Let's think about this a minute..."


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