Attorney General Alberto “Albatross” Gonzales is at it again… but this time it looks as though impeachment could not only be a possibility, but a reality.
Let’s fall back a few months ago when Gonzales was on Capitol Hill regarding his and the White House’s role in AttorneyGate ®… he answered question after question with a Ollie North-like “I don’t recall.”
People on both sides of the aisle were calling for Gonzo to go-zo… but “President” Bush was satisfied and Gonzo’s job security was stronger than Dick Cheney’s clenched jaw.
Some time goes by… and Gonzales’ turn in the AttorneyGate Cavalcade is up again and no one thought that he could do worse than his first foray…
Everyone with a brain knew that Gonzales was going to be asked about his bed-side visit to a hospitalized and semi-conscious John Ashcroft in an effort to get approval on an illegal surveillance program that Ashcroft was unsure about.
Everyone except Gonzales apparently.
But Sen. Arlen Specter (r-PA) did ask Gonzales about it, and Gonzales threw down some inanity that’s so profound… it’s almost an art form;
“The disagreement that occurred, and the reason for the visit to the hospital, Senator, was about other intelligence activities. It was not about the terrorist surveillance program that the president announced to the American people.”Really, it wasn’t?? It seems to me, and everyone else paying attention, that that’s what it was about…
This testimony might make someone wonder what the hell Gonzales is thinking… but wait… it gets better…
Gonzales: “… there are no rules governing whether or not General Ashcroft can decide, I'm feeling well enough to make this decision.”Okay, let me see if I have this straight.
Specter: “But, Attorney General Gonzales, he had already given up his authority as attorney general ... was no longer attorney general.”
Gonzales: “And he could always reclaim that. There are no rules...”
Specter: “While he's in the hospital under sedation?”
Gonzales: “Again, we didn't know -- we knew, of course, that he was ill, that he'd had surgery...”
Despite the fact that Ashcroft had indeed surrendered his authority…
Despite the fact that Ashcroft was recovering from surgery…
Despite the fact that Ashcroft was not totally coherent… the long and short of it is that no matter what Ashcroft’s state of mind was… he could still be coerced into signing away civil rights if that's what the president wanted.
The whole thing was an amazing display by Senator Specter who refused to back down;
Specter: “How can you get approval from sedated Ashcroft?”
Gonzales: “Can I continue?”
Specter: “No, answer my question.”
Gonzales: “Obviously there was concern about Ashcroft's condition. There are no rules governing when Ashcroft decides he is well enough.”
Specter: “He had given us AG duties.”
Gonzales: “We knew he was ill...”
Specter: “Not making progress. Moving on. Do you think constitution govt can survive if Pres has unilateral authority to reject congress inquiries for Exec Privilege and prevent prosecution of claim?”
Gonzales: “Ongoing matter, I am recused, I cannot answer.”
Specter: “I am asking about constitutional law.”
Gonzales: “You are talking about an on-going issue.”
Specter: “No. Answer.”
Gonzales: “I won't answer - it is ongoing controversy and I am recused.”
[Calls for decorum as the room is protesting]
Specter: “Won't pursue. This is hopeless. You are not just AG, you are a lawyer. This is a fundamental issues separate from USA resignations. Other subject. Do you have a conflict regarding the firing of US AGs?”
Specter:” Do you have a conflict of interest about Miers?”
Gonzales: “Yes. I won't answer.”
Specter: “Let's find one you will answer. How about death penalty case? Charlton contacted your office and said case was not appropriate for dp. Testimony that AG spent 5-10 minutes on the issue...is this accurate?”
Gonzales: “I have no specific recollection of this case. But we have a detailed process for capital case review.”
Specter: “I am not interested in that. I want an answer to my question. You don't remember a case regarding a man's execution?”
Gonzales: “I have no recollection of the conversation.”
Specter: “Do you disagree with the testimony?”
Gonzales: “I can't agree or disagree.”
Or how about this exchange between Gonzales and Charles Schumer (D-NY)?
Schumer: I'll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because you're getting right close to the edge right here. You just said there was just one program -- just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesn't directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.
Gonzales: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.
Schumer: What did you say to the reporter?
Gonzales: I did not speak directly to the reporter.
Schumer: Oh, wait a second -- you did not.
OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?
Gonzales: I don't know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statement...
Schumer: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect -- and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman -- in all due respect, you're just saying, "Well, it was clarified with the reporter," and you don't even know what he said. You don't even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where you're bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you don't even know. I'll give you another chance: You're hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. You're now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?
Gonzales: I don't know, but I'll find out and get back to you.
This would be downright comical if it weren’t really happening…
This has got to be the final straw with Gonzales. He has, as Sen. Schumer stated, "deceived the committee" and continues to do so... yet he's still the AG...
It's just sad...