So say’s Fred Barnes when interviewed by Laura Ingraham on Friday and I would completely agree. Did Gonzales handle this story well in the beginning? No. But to throw another body in front of the Democrat train is NOT the answer. I will be the first to admit that Gonzales doesn’t appear to be the best Attorney General but to bow to Democratic pressure over a non-scandal is not the answer.
The Democrats want more Republican blood into their veins which they can get if Gonzales is sacrificed. Then we will have headlines and newspaper article from coast to coast alleging that it’s just one more corrupt Bush official. Of course the fact that not one person in Bush’s administration is corrupt would matter not, the mere fact that a AG resigns would be enough to push the Bush haters over the edge in glee.
Lets look at this story for a minute. U.S. Attorneys are given the privilege of serving the Administration, they are not entitled to it, there is no right to it. They can be let go for any reason whatsoever. There were questions of the effectiveness of these attorneys so they were let go. No big deal. Clinton did it, Bush did it.
Douglas W. Kmiec, Former Head of the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice to Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, wrote an excellent piece describing this non-scandal in layman’s terms:
The real account has nothing to do with politics trumping justice, and everything to do with a whole lot of people raising questions about prosecutorial effectiveness and an additional cohort trying to be as nice about addressing such perceived shortcomings without trampling upon personal or professional reputations. But keep such personnel details private and immediately the White House is accused of stonewalling. Nothing in the Constitution or laws conditions the President’s removal authority upon the showing of cause, but if the complaints he was receiving were credible, cause he seemed to have. Take, for example, the articulated unhappiness of New Mexico citizens – admittedly, Republicans (a status that is not as yet a crime) – with the slow pace of Mr. Iglesias’ investigations into what seems like rather blatant voter fraud (thousands of false registrations and virtually no prosecutions) or the like distress over the lack of success in prosecuting a high profile case of state public corruption (a dismissal of virtually all of a 24 count indictment in a kickback case where the lesser figures already pled guilty).
Nor was there anything unseemly about the White House contemplating asking all U.S. Attorneys for a resignation letter in a presidential transition. And it doesn’t matter if Harriet thought of this idea before Karl or it came to Laura in a dream. The practice is commonplace. When I headed the Office of Legal Counsel for President Reagan, I — along with everyone else – supplied a letter of resignation to George H.W. Bush upon his election in 1988. In some cases, resignations were accepted immediately, in others for one reason or another, officers would stay on for a piece. It is all part of even a "friendly" transition. By constitutional design, it is the way new Presidents – or re-elected ones – get the attention of the "holdovers," and usually minimize the awkwardness of saying good-bye. How much more appropriate this is when the White House has become a switchboard for complaints that on the surface look like serious concerns of ineffectiveness.
It would appear that Attorney General Gonzales tempered the White House desire to replace U.S. Attorneys wholesale. This is hardly the response of someone incapable of separating himself from his personal friendship with the President or from his previous role as White House Counsel. Indeed, it is precisely the opposite – elevating the institutional preferences of his Department over the policy proposals of his former confreres. 85 U.S. attorneys continued on without missing a single deposition, even as reality suggests no U. S. Attorney is irreplaceable. A major portion of work in every government department, including Justice, is ably accomplished by career lawyers and employees. There would be greater reason for concern if career lawyers were testifying to the effect that the dismissals of the head of the office impeded their work, but no surprise, there is no report of that.
But now the left is in a uproar over how the questions were answered by Gonzales and his staff. No longer is it about the firing but about how the questions were answered. Deja vu anyone? Cough Libby Cough….A calender has been found that suggest that Gonzales met to discuss the firing:
Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales convened a meeting to discuss firing a group of U.S. attorneys 10 days before they were terminated, according to Justice Department documents released Friday night that could indicate Gonzales was more involved in the process than he has said previously.
The documents show that Gonzales and a group of senior aides, including Deputy Atty. Gen. Paul J. McNulty, met Nov. 27, to review a plan for firing the prosecutors. The dismissals were carried out Dec. 7.
Here are the documents:
"We never had a discussion about where things stood," Gonzales said on March 13. "What I knew was that there was an ongoing effort that was led by Mr. Sampson … to ascertain where we could make improvements in U.S. attorney performances around the country."
The Nov. 27 meeting in Gonzales’ conference room came as Sampson was still trying to decide which federal prosecutors would be asked to step down. His final list targeted seven U.S. attorneys, who were told on Dec. 7 that they were being ousted. Another prosecutor had been asked to step down months earlier.
A Justice Department spokesman said the latest disclosures don’t contradict Gonzales’ statements that he knew little about the firings.
"This meeting concerned the roll-out of the U.S. attorney plan. The information available to us does not indicate that there was discussion at this meeting about which U.S. attorneys should or should not be on the list," spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said.
[…]it seems to me that this morning’s headlines could just have easily been "New documents verify Gonzales’ claims." For example:
Reporting shows that the final plan was sent to the WH for review 12 days before the meeting where it was presented to Gonzales, the meeting that everyone claims is a smoking gun. In other words, the plan was not in development at the time of the Nov. 27 meeting, it was complete and tied up with a bow nearly two weeks earlier.
This meeting, according to printed reports, was about a rollout of a plan that had already been completed, and an opportunity for the AG to review and sign off on something that had already been developed.
According to the AP, "There are no other meetings on the calendar pages released between that Nov. 27 and Dec. 7, when the attorneys were fired, to indicate Gonzales participated in other discussions on the matter, Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said."
In other words, all available reporting actually backs up the AG’s claim that he delegated this effort to senior DOJ officials, that those officials created a proposal and plan, and only when they were done did they bring it to the AG for approval. That is completely consistent with what the AG said on March 13 in his press avail.
So while I agree that this has not been handled well from the start, I don’t agree that hanging the AG based on a Post article that is misreporting the facts is ever a good idea.
But instead the usual suspects from the left are calling for heads to roll and even a few Republicans have jumped on the bandwagon. They listen to the Democrat talking points via our MSM and jump over each other to be the first to offer a sacrifice, not seeing the bigger picture.
That bigger picture being the hint of corruption being vindicated by a resignation of our Attorney General over a non-scandal.
Macsmind with some interesting idea’s. He starts with a little timeline on the NSA leak investigation:
December 2005 – Story breaks (yours truly posted two days early based on a tip) that the DOJ would be intiating a probe into The New York Times story about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
This probe would be spear headed by the DOJ under AG Gonazales, who would later say on a May 2006 appearance on ABC’s This Week that in regards to whether specifically reporters could be prosecuted for publishing leaks, “There are some statutes on the book which, if you read the language carefully, would seem to indicate that that is a possibility,” . He would go on to say, “That’s a policy judgment by the Congress in passing that kind of legislation…. “We have an obligation to enforce those laws. We have an obligation to ensure that our national security is protected.”
At this same time the story broke that the probe would include members of Congress who had been briefed on the NSA program and indeed supeanes were issued and testimony gathered.[…]In January of 2007, the Ny Sun again ran a story detailing how leak probes were stymied by a lack of cooperation by “victim agencies” such as the CIA, which is like, “Gee! Who would have thunk it so?
Which brings us to March of 2007 and the AG ’scandal’. On March 9th, The top Republican on the House’s main investigative committee, Rep. Thomas Davis of Virginia wrote a letter to AG Gonzales referencing the FBI’s contention that three leak investigations had been closed because of lack of the aforementioned lack of cooperation. You can read the letter here.
Basically it accuses Gonzales of stonewalling, but as you read the story, and specifically with what has taken place with Sampson, it appears that rather than stonewalling Gonzales may have been busy pulling the knives out of his back for the last year. In short, this is worse than I thought with respect to reasons why so many seem intent on making sure Gonzales takes the plung, and takes it quick.[…]Still I’ve just got this feeling that based upon on the movement towards Gonzales – fevered and incomprehensible movement – that perhaps more was uncovered than anyone thought possible.
Recall that most of us have been shrugging our shoulders and muttering "whats the big deal? There is no scandal here."
Maybe Mac is on to something here. This would explain the absolute vitriol coming from the left against Gonzales. Is there some Congresscritters getting nervous about a certain investigation?
Scott Malensek adds:
Curt, I think there’s more to the AG "scandal" than anyone’s noticing. It’s the same reason Waxman tried to revive the Plame gig, and the same reason that they rolled out Al Gore.
It’s a distraction.
Dems are failing completely to end the war in Iraq. They can’t even pass a non-binding resolution, and now they pat each other on the back for passing a House supplemental bill that has zero chance of making it through the senate or past a veto.
Dems need to appease the codepinkerdoodles who are protesting outside Pelosi’s office and home. They need to appease the "liberal nutjobs" who try to trap Rep Obey in the hall outside his office. Everyone knows they didn’t have a plan for a New Direction in Iraq. Dean admitted it. It was a lie, and now they’re trying to do it on fly adhoc. These people never even spent enough time thinking about it to realize there can be no new direction. So they’re stuck with a dire accountability issue (made worse by pork spending and frozen bucks in refrigerators). Gotta distract.
Hold some hearings on Plame where she can lie under oath
Make up a scandal with the AG’s
and when it’s really bad…roll out Al Gore.
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