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July 25, 2007


No get out of jail card for impeachment. Gonzo is the only hope for getting our terminal wimps to approve opening an impeachment investigation. It is critical to get that going before even Bush concludes Albertoad must go. For this reason, yesterday's hearing spooked me a little; as I can see it leading to a hasty exit for AGAG (a good thing for the most part) but drying up the only path to the level of investigation we have to have, impeachment (a bad thing).

It's just so bizarre. It's like he thinks that going in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, as the US Atty. General, is the same as getting called into the principal's office in elementary school.

Ummm... no... it wasn't misleading, my press conference was misleading, but I corrected that... it was corrected by my spokesman... to a reporter... but the program, it wasn't about the program... it was... ummm... other intelligence activities. Yeah, that's it. The discussion was about other intelligence activities, not the program that the president approved.

Way to go, good answer, AGAG--except for the fact that it's a lie. And you're not in the principal's office.

OT - Josh Marshall is edging in the direction of impeachment. Not there yet, but getting closer.


He needs to read more TNH.

IMO someone is dangling him in front of the Dems; unless he's a complete idiot. Many here have said he's not so..........?


Oh no, I firmly believe he's a sycophantic idiot.

Hey, where's Jodi to explain why this is really no big deal?

My wife, a more casual observer of politics, expressed frustration over the fact that "nothing is happening to these guys". I gave here my explanation: Jenga.

Each one of these tedious hearings, each documented discrepancy, each demand for documents or testimony is pulling out another piece of the pile. Nothing seems to be happening at first, but eventually, collapse. The so-called liberal media would cast the Dems to the wolves if they tried to put the cart before the horse and do what we all know is necessary and right.

The tower is beginning to wobble . . .


Interesting bits from the full AP article:

1) This memo from Negroponte is dated May 17, 2006 and went to Dennis Hastert. Do you think that might deserve a place in a relevant timeline, emptywheel? Sure seemed to have been a lot of interesting decisions and revelations in May 06 pertaining to anything that had to do with all this spying, who was running it, and who knew about it.

2) The memo details "the classification of the dates, locations, and names of members of Congress who attended briefings on the Terrorist Surveillance Program." Is that implying that all the times the G of 8 and others were briefed - that the briefings themselves and who was there, etc., (and thus what sorts of consensus/dissent existed as well) was all being classified? Or am I misreading the wording? Is this why Harman said AG's selectively declassifying stuff, because that purported WH situation room meeting itself was classified (not to mention that she might be pissed off if it's true that she was vote number 5 for the "consensus" and the public will now know that?)

There is one possibility that I have not seen mentioned anywhere (unless sycophantic idiot counts as such)... could Gonzales have a psychiatric issue himself? That he just either makes this stuff up as he goes along, or is just plain oppositional in everything?

Or he is just a troll walking through the Congressional woods to attract attention and use up energy while other stuff is happening.

Regardless, it makes me queazy to think about Congress going out for its break and leaving Bush and Cheney to their own devices...

I don't think Gonzo is very smart(I suspect he and Bush are more alike than we know), but I also think we're watching a bit of Kabuki. Gonzo's being used by Cheney & Rove. He serves the dual roles of 1) firewall (or speed-bump) to protect the REALLY dirty players and 2)shiny object to further distract Congress.

1. I looked for an article by Dan Eggen two days after Gonzo's presser. There was one. It even had a quote from DoJ spokestool Brian Roehrkrasse. However, Roehrkrasse did not say that Gonzo misspoke at the presser and meant to say that the dispute with Comey was about some OTHER program. He just said that the TSP had been thoroughly vetted and there had been dissent about other programs. Nothing about whether Comey's statements and Gonzo's were inconsistent. SURPRISE!!!
2. Tomorrow, Gonzo will "clarify" his testimony by issuing a statement that says, "Er, I meant to say, the dispute was about Morgan Fairchild, whom I've slept with!"
3. Seriously, Gonzo's next gambit will be to say, well, what I meant in my 2006 testimony was that there had been no dissent about the program as it existed after Comey made us change it in March 2004. The program that Comey wouldn't approve was the OLD program. There has been no dissent about the NEW program. You watch.
4. Today White House spokestool Tony Snowjob said that "nobody has laid a glove" on Gonzo. I wonder what he will say tomorrow.
5. I hope Bush does not fire him. I hope he is impeached. He's an embarrassment to the legal profession, as well as unfit to hold public office. The man has committed perjury in order to deceive Congress and thwart legislative oversight. Hopefully, by the time that's over, we can move on to Gonzo's bosses.

It was strange how Cheney had to hold Bush's hand during the Plame investigation. I suspect that Gonzo had to check with the Big Dick multiple times before and after each hearing.
At least I did not see a bulge on his back.

If someone resigns during an impeachment what happens? Does the impeachment go forward? Gonzo's going won't change much - because it sounds like he doesn't really run the DOJ and he certainly has no idea of what is going on. The impeachment is important because of the documents and records that will turn up- and lead to Big Dick.

Gary: From your keyboard to God's ears.

Why/What the Hell/Can They?......... Is it not possible that Conyers or Leahy can have the Sergeant/?Serjeant, on hand to clap Gonzo/Meiers/Bolten in handcuffs and removed to a Congress Pokey, where, of course, there no longer being Habeas Corpus they can be held sine die. If they are held under the Patriot Act even better; they should be held with bag over head in solitary with lots of nice noise, and water-boarded twice a day as our wonderful President has decreed such is not torture, just questioning..........

I dream, but is there law on Congess's side here, EW?

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."
Translation from the original Gonzalese: Nobody had a problem with us listening in on actual terrorists. It was the spying on ordinary Americans that some people objected to.

At this point, Fredo knows he can't swim or paddle or find his way out of the woods, and he sure can't play the banjo with his fingers or his toes. I imagine him to be Ned Beatty's twin, hoping that that pardon, in the form of an arrow, hits the spot before he starts to squeal like a pig.

If we can see the document that Gonzo had with him in the hospital room, all will be clear.

That document is either:

1 - Re-authorization of the TSP


2 - Re-authorization of 'other intelligence activities'

Either answer will do.

If the document is reauthorization of the TSP, that means Gonzo lied when he testified that the hospital visit was about 'other intelligence activities,' and that means Comey's version of events is true.

If the document is reauthorization of 'other intelligence activities,' then Gonzo lied when he testified there was only one Program.

He's perjured himself, for sure, but seeing the document will clarify what truth he was hiding with his lies.

Haven't seen anyone mention this, but what are the chances of a recess appointment of a new AG by Bushco to help the trail get cold? There's obviously no way he could get another sycophant on the order of Gonzo in place through a normal confirmation hearing. Doesn't seem like he has anything to lose with another August appointment (in the calender sense).

gonzo will never get to trial.

i hate to say it, but he never will.

if he ever were tried, and convicted,
yes -- bush would commute the sentence
within five hours -- what was it, three(?)
for scooter? -- i'll take the over, on that.

O/T, but only sorta:

i have posted links, and
images, of conyers' full
seventy-page PDF-ish report
on contempt -- transmitted
tonight to fred fielding at the
white house
-- do take a look!

mmmmm! documentary goodness!

do enjoy!

Isikoff and Hosenball in Newsweek have got a pdf of the letter.

It's a two page list, starting Oct. 2001, of who was briefed when.

Peter, you are kidding yourself, they've got plenty of these goose-steppers.

I'm with EW, Gonzo ain't too bright, he's just so damn happy to be thier that he'll do anything the king ask.

Even under the last King George that often ended with a head you could kick down the street.

Gonzo is sticking to the play book, once the Dems get serious about impeaching him, he'll resign, recess apointment will come in, and the whole damn process will continue.

Gonzo will get a right quick pardon if needed. Hell they may even have the interim AG prosecute him, so Bush can do the pardon on the last day in office, thus cutting off a real investigation later.

Rest assured guys, there is a contingency in place for this. How to get a true impartial AG in place, that's the real question. I don't think Bush will put one up, he'll try to ride this out with Kool-aid drinking temps.

Damn browser quit on me. Anyway, in brief:

1. 2006 memo on 2004 meeting. Meaning that the terminology is suspect, and perhaps revisionist, because it's using the 'acknowledged' term (TSP) to refer to something pre-Comey. That implies a continuity that benefits the WH -- remember that Abu G's opening statement was about rewriting FISA.

2. The pre-Comey 'TSP' -- the programme Rockefeller wrote to Cheney about -- is the iceberg. The 'acknowledged TSP' is the tip. The reporting has presumed that Comey's objections, and the threat of mass DOJ resignations, led to technical 'tweaking' of surveillance that basically resembles what was acknowledged. I disagree.

3. Who leaked it? I go with the 'bright shiny object' theory, and put the leaker as a White House-frienfly GOP source.

Schumer seemed to want to go after Abu G for perjury. I think Gonzo would be happy for that to happen. He was kidding on the square.

Bush is pushing for confrontation. They have no strategic sense, but tactically they think they can win the news cycle with confrontation (and they typically do), so they want to pick a fight.

Best case for Dems: Gonzo refuses to let DOJ seek subpoena enforcement on Miers. Gonzo lies are documented. Dems pick the fight on Gonzo, via impeachment proceedings.

Hearings expose Gonzo/Cheney/Bush/Rove, witnesses get filleted (Monica and Kyle, come back for some real questions this time), and Bush strategy of maintaining GOP party unit gets tested with less than 1 year to next election (at a time when he is getting split offs from GOP over Iraq).

If the document is reauthorization of the TSP, that means Gonzo lied when he testified that the hospital visit was about 'other intelligence activities,' and that means Comey's version of events is true.

If the document is reauthorization of 'other intelligence activities,' then Gonzo lied when he testified there was only one Program.

That's a false dichotomy, although understandable. You're applying 2005 language to 2004 events. The 'acknowledged TSP' didn't exist at the time. It's what was left -- or rather, what BushCo fessed up to -- after the threat of mass resignations.

Think iceberg. TSP is the tip. Or think of the document as an authorization for The Mother Of All Domestic Spying Programs, and the TSP as its bouncing baby surveillance operation.

It's a two page list, starting Oct. 2001, of who was briefed when.

And it mentions the July 17, 2003 meeting after which Rockefeller wrote his letter to Cheney. That was the last meeting before the March 10, 2004 meeting. One has to presume that nothing significant had changed in those seven months.

(Interestingly, Tom frickin' DeLay was briefed on the 11th, even though he wasn't technically a Gang of 8er, and had never been briefed beforehand.)

There's also an interesting shift in Feb-March 2006, from leaders/chairs to the TSP subcommittees of House and Senate.

Oops. I missed my main point. I think it's important to break down the sense of continuity in that list of meetings. Think of three discrete phases: October 2001 - March 10, 2004; March 10, 2004 and the fess-up on December 17, 2005; and between December 17, 2005 and now.

damn, e'wheel

an hour ago i was thinking to myself that gonzales was doing in his job just what libby did in his job:

lying to protect his boss.

that's exactly what's happening sure as god made little green apples.

gonzales' face and demeanor in the hearing tell the whole story - he is not even remotely concerned about testifying truthfully nor inclined to testify against his boss.

to the contrary, he seems to feel empowered to smirk and publicly lie without concern or shame.


i have observed american politics all my life and i have never, ever, seen american society throw up a creature like the bush administration --

the loch ness monster of american presidencies.

I wanted to mention this yesterday but didn't, thinking someone somewhere must have pointed it out and I was out of the loop, but I haven't seen it: If you actually go back and look at Comey's testimony, there's a key sentence right as he's leading into the description of the hospital visit.

He says, "And over the next week — particularly the following week, on Tuesday — we communicated to the relevant parties at the White House and elsewhere our decision that as acting attorney general I would not certify the program as to its legality and explained our reasoning in detail, which I will not go into here. NOR AM I CONFIRMING IT'S ANY PARTICULAR PROGRAM."

So Comey himself went out of his way to obfuscate about which "particular program" was in serious question here. (And no senator pressed him immediately on that for clarification, which they should have.) That gives Gonzo some corroboration and protection (and I'm certainly not saying he's off the hook for perjury ultimately in this or any of a number of other instances). On this particular issue of there being other spying programs, though, I'm actually much more inclined to believe Gonzo's repeated hints (from 2006 testimony)and now full admission that there really were a bunch of "other intelligence activities" (so illegal that even Ashcroft rose from sedation to tell them to fuck off) and that to me is an even more alarming issue. A bit tin-foily: I even wonder if Negroponte's memo is itself an obfuscation of facts about these "other activities" and about what the G of 8 knew and/or were not permitted to know. Shuster sort of raised that possibility on KO tonight. I'd sure like to see this Negroponte memo, and, echoing above, sure like to see the document Abu brought to the hospital. That would indeed clear up a lot.

My gut instinct says Gonzales weighed two options in his head yesterday - endangering himself outright by continuing to stand by his "there was no serious dissent" testimony or revealing on record that there was a lot more to TSP than met the eye - in other words, protect himself or protect his bosses, and this time he picked himself.

As to those plying the depths of AGAG's psyche, and who haven't seen my musings before, I agree with EW that he is a sycophantic idiot. I am acquainted with a classmate of his at Harvard Law. At a recent reunion, a group of about 100 that knew each other were talking at various times through the night and, by the the end of the night, they collectively figured out that NONE of them could even remember Gonzales having been in school with them. There were significant people in that class including Senator Jake Reed, Mass. Governor Deval Patrick and some pretty outstanding lawyers including the chap I know. As far as they knew, Gonzales didn't exist. (It was members of this group that wrote the open letter that they published in the Washington Post basically calling Bush's policies out and calling Gonzales a toad that shoud be ousted). As I said to someone on an earlier thread, I cannot particularly put into words the basis for the opinion, but I have been around longer than I would like to admit, and it is crystal clear to me that Gonzales is a bit slow on the uptake and has next to no legal skills or instinct. He is a tag along puppy dog that is getting the biggest rush of his life running with the big dogs; blithely oblivious to the fact that he is nothing but cannon fodder in the form of the firewall of the moment. He has not the realization necessary to form humility; he will stay until told to leave by Cheney/Bush.

negroponte memo is available at think progress.

If you actually go back and look at Comey's testimony, there's a key sentence right as he's leading into the description of the hospital visit.

Yes. There's been a certain amount of presumption that what Comey refused to reauthorise was something along the lines of the subsequently acknowledged 'TSP'. Since 'the program the president has acknowledged' has become the legalism to describe it, he could have easily used that language. He very pointedly did not.

I even wonder if Negroponte's memo is itself an obfuscation of facts about these "other activities" and about what the G of 8 knew and/or were not permitted to know. Shuster sort of raised that possibility on KO tonight.

It's at very least a bit of revisionist history, implying that the 'acknowledged' TSP was substantially the same as what was being discussed in 2001, and what peturbed Sen. Rockefeller in 2003.

After having seen the Negroponte memo now, I take back my one tin-foily musing - it's clear this is just a listing of who was briefed on TSP and when, and all of that is eminently verifiable info. Sure like to know WHAT about the TSP was briefed to whom, though. I wonder if different aspects were revealed to different leaders at different times. But if Gonzo wants to stand by this new assertion that he and WH officials and the G of 8 had a nice little discussion about "other intelligence activities" and not the TSP on March 10, 2004, this memo certainly does seem to put him up a creek.

bmaz @ 23:38

Thanks for the info. on Gonzalez. That's what I thought. He had that goofy "I'm barely able to keep up with these smart guys" look on his face at yesterdays hearing.

But I still believe it's Cheney and Rove pulling the strings (not necessarily in sync). Bush is just a whiter, richer Gonzalez -- another "tag along puppy" who gets off on how much more respect he gets as President than he ever got in "real life". Cheney and Rove are the puppeteers while Gonzo and Bush strut around and pretend not to see the strings.

How many ways does Gonzales want it:

Either the briefing of the GO8 was about the entire set of activities that then represented the TSV or a misrepresentation was made to the GO8.

The briefing with the GO8 was prior to the President's description of some aspects of the program.

Gonzales is apparently relying on a fiction that his use of the term "the program" refers to the parts of the program described by the President and approved by a concensus of the GO8 but this term is apparently inappropriate for describing both as they are apparently not inclusive.

The problem is by his own admission the program he took to Ashcroft's bedside was the program approved by a concensus of the GO8. This is also the program objected to by Comey. He starts on Tuesday by admitting to Shumer that there is only one "program" and then begins to shift into a mode of describing "sets of intelligence activity".

Gonzales has used the word "program" in his testimony in ways that have two separate and distinct meanings. He wants to have everything two ways. He was at Ashcroft's bedside on behalf of the GO8. He was at Ashcroft's bedside on behalf of the President. The "program" is the TSP approved by the GO8 Comey objected to by Comey. The "program" is the set of intelligence activities admitted to by the President about which there was no dissent. I have never seen a more straight forward example of duplicity. Of course he will say that its all true and that he has been misunderstood. Nevertheless the fact remains that there was dissent to the program about which Gonzales has stated the GO8 reached a concensus. The fact remains no matter how you cut it the program the President described violated FISA.

The additional fact remains that for two years activities were underway over which Goldsmith, Comey and others threatened to resign once they were vetted properly. And now Gonzales has confirmed this general fact. This is two years of profoundly illegal activity which is as of yet undisclosed and for which no one has been held to account. What is the SJC going to do about this?

I am so utterly outraged by all of this I have lost all reasonable ability to proofread.

And one more thing. If there was no dissent over the program the President described and the program that existed after Comey's objections were apparently met, WHY DID GONAZALES AMEND THE PROGRAM AGAIN IN JANUARY OF THIS YEAR!?

Some above see the glimmer.

Gonzales is using words that have meanings that aren't understood yet. Didn't you see the rank of guys behind him. He has the whole DOJ to plot a path through the minefield for him.

I don't know how long I have listened to this "we got you now Alberto", "Alberto the perjurer," etc., etc.

Yet Alberto Gonzales is still coming into these meetings and doing his little dance, and the Congressional Committees are spinning their wheels.

Perhaps the Magician is at work, and it is not Alberto Gonzales but the Magic Rabbit instead, testifying.

Jodi, was it the Magic Rabbit who made the list of which USAs would be fired? Or maybe Rove or Cheney. Maybe the Magic Rabbit stole your buddy's memory about how many USAs were fired. Maybe that is why the Magician doesn't know who made the list. Was it magic that the meeting with Goodling about her testimony was improper and the "comforting" wuffle dust doesn't change this. Goodling was one if your slick lawyers too and she was uncomfortable about the meeting.

Jodi, stay with your outrage about the war. I regret that you do not see this matter with illegal spying and manipulating USAs for political gain as part and parcel of this "war presidency". It is. Still, if I may, you might help accomplish something meaningul if you would focus on your passion rather than on your penchant for saccharine cyncial criticism. Think about it.

it was just a matter of time ( unfortunately ) ....

jodi shows up

sez some stupid shit ( in bold no less )

everybody goes " zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz "....

btw, other blogs ban such spewers for various reasons - one blog even put it up for a vote - could we do that here ???

I'd be feeling much more positive about the long-term outcome of contempt proceedings in the House if we could get one, just ONE, Republican to admit that the WH is wrong, that this is not the criminalization of politics. There was nothing more dispiriting than to watch the HJC debate the other day and to realize that partisanship has moved from being a lens to being a set of blinders.

Besides lying to Congress, (which is a serious offense although Republicans seem to think it is no worse than lying to your kid about santa claus) for what other conduct is Gonzo in legal jeopardy?

To answer your question, Gonza will be pardoned in January 2009, far sooner than Scooter. Bush has limited his option to pardon Gonzo sooner by pardoning Libby in a way the defies logic: sentence too severe so remove whole sentence.

A premature pardon for Gonzo puts Bush in legal jeopardy, not that he isn't already but let's face it, it's all about popular support for impeachment and if it exists, Bush is a goner, his legacy too.

Bush is in a bind here. It's problematic to lose Gonzo as the firewall, it problematic to have Gonzo impeached. Gonzo will be impeached. That'll get the train rolling.

If you're taking a vote, I think Jodi should be allowed to post, elsewhere.

I may not have a clue about this, but I was under the impression that the President could not pardon someone who had been impeached and convicted by Congress. If that is true, impeachment seems like an excellent option.

The consequence of being impeached (formally accused of wrongdoing) in the House and being convicted in the Senate is limited to removal from office. That's an exclusively legislative act and the president has no pardon authority over it: s/he cannot keep someone in office under those circumstances.

Separate from impeachment, but usually after leaving office, an official can also be charged with crimes. The president can pardon any criminal conviction, which removes not just the consequences of a crime, such as jail time or the inability to obtain a license to work in many professions - law, hair styling - but the legal recognition that a crime took place.

The Ford pardon of Nixon is an unusual "anticipatory" pardon, which removes a person from legal liability for a crime or class of crimes that s/he hasn't yet been charged with or convicted of.

I expect Shrub to issue several of those before the door hits him on the way out. Karl and Fredo seem likely candidates, along with Libby. Cheney probably needs one, but may be too arrogant to demand one.

Folks, don't miss another law broken by the Bush Administration. Look closely at that document. That March 2004 meeting was the first time the Gang of Eight had been informed and it was 2 more years before any other members of the Intelligence Committees were informed. I am very disappointed with Pelosi and Graham for not calling them out on this. Graham, in particular, should have known better than to let the Administration go that long violating its statutory responsibilities under the National Security Act.

Even if Gonzo leaves office, he can still be impeached. The excuse for doing so could be that, if he is convicted in an impeachment trial, he loses benefits like his government pension, and loses the right to occupy any government positions in the future. The real reason would be that an impeachment investigation and trial permits an investigation not limited by executive privilege.

Did the administration decide to finally inform the Gang of Eight in March 2004 precisely because of the dispute that had arisen within the Justice Department?

Dan Eggen has a piece in today's Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/25/AR2007072502284.html, in which he confirms that Roehrkasse did indeed contact him and make a correction:

"In June, Gonzales veered briefly from his own account when he said at a news conference that the dispute described by Comey centered on the NSA program. But Roehrkasse told The Washington Post several days later that Gonzales misspoke."

If Eggen is telling the truth, I wonder why Roehrkasse's correction never made it into the Washington Post.

The function and consequence of an impeachment is removal from office. I don't see how it's possible to do that if an official is no longer serving in office.

It is certainly possible to conduct an investigation of a former official as an exercise of Congressional oversight and to pass the fruits of it to a prosecutor for use with a grand jury in seeking a criminal indictment.

Earl - I don't know if it has ever significantly been done or not, and I take no current position on whether it should be contemplated after January 2009, but you can indeed impeach after someone has left office in order to remove residual vestiges of office such as pension, etc. and also to order that the person be barred from public office in the future.

Let the troll speak her mind. She's a harmless nuisance. Besides, I rather enjoy freepat's strolls on troll patrol. I know there's a good reason why EW in all her wisdom allows the noise from the Leopolds (all manifestations of whom notwithstanding) and the Jodi's and the Maybees and TM. Cbolt's the only one of them who challenges my paradigm. But who knows, someday we might have the benefit of saying to Jodi "so there I told you so, now shut the fuck up"!

E of H - Bmaz is correct - AGAG cannot stop impeachment by resigning, the House & Senate still have jurisdiction, and in fact President Grant's Secretary of War tried to forestall impeachment by resigning, but the House impeached and the Senate convicted in any event.

Re trolls, I agree with Greenhouse, it is almost a badge of honour for the blog to be trolled, and EW and the other proprietors of the blog engage with them. Although I am disturbed by some of the more frothing, vulgar trolls who have shown up here lately, for the most part, the trolls here are like the loudmouthed know it alls who hang around bars, unpleasant and stupid, but not bad enough to call the bouncer.


thanks for your insight. I think you could make strong remarks without the dirty mouth though. But that is just my opinion.


my offer still stands.
If this blog's commenters can't stand the scrutiny of other opinions and rebuttals, then just put at the top of the page something like:

"Please, only Progressive/Liberal/Democratic views are desired herein."

I think emptywheel wants an open forum, and other opinions. I have said it before. ~Where would she be if she didn't peruse other opinions and writings?~

It is in the forum of freely exchanged diverse ideas, where new ideas are formed and old ideas are strengthened and honed to be razor sharp.

Otherwise you are joining the book burners!

Jodi, I don't see how your contributions improve the discourse. I see that they disrupt it. The cause of the disruption has little to do with your ideological perspective. It has mostly to do with your purpose and intellect.

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