I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Alberto Gonzales Show - Part II

Every time I think these people can't possibly surprise me any more I am proven tragically, horribly wrong. Yesterday Ron pointed out some of the jaw dropping high jinks of the AG, but what he did and said somehow pales in comparison to the things he didn't say. Or, more precisely, the things he refused to say. I was alerted to this almost hidden nugget by Josh Marshall over at TPM. They have the video of a frankly spectacular moment of the Justice Department giving up any and all pretense of impartial respect for and enforcement of the law and, as Marshall puts it, effectively telling a United States Senator, "Blow me." Be sure you click through and watch this video, but I'll do an on the fly transcription of one of the key pieces. Chuck Schumer is attempting to ask questions about the now infamous visit by Gonzales to the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft in their attempt to do an end run around the legal system.

Schumer: Let me ask you this. Who sent you to the hospital?
Gonzales: Senator, what I can say is that we had a very important meeting on this at the White House and...
S: That's not what I asked you.
G: I'm trying to answer your question.
S: Who sent you? Did the President send you?
G: The chief of staff of the president of the United States and the Chief Counsel to the President of the United States went to the hospital on behalf of the White House...
S: Did the President ask you to go?
G: We were there on behalf of the President of the United States.
S: Did he ask you to go?
G: We were there on behalf of the President of the United States.
S: Why can't you answer the question?
G: That's the answer I can give you.
S: Can you explain to me why you can't answer the question?
G: Senator, again, we were there on a very important program for the President...
S; Did you talk to the president about it beforehand?
G: Senator, obviously there were a lot of discussions during that period of time...
S: Sir. You are before this committee, you're supposed to answer the questions, you've not claimed any privilege, I don't see any here, and I asked you a question. You refused to answer it?
G: Sir, I'll go back.. if I could answer the question I'll answer the question.
S: Can you tell me why you can't answer the question?
G: Senator, again, because this relates to activities when I was in the White House.. and because of that, with respect to your specific question, I will go back and see if I can answer the question.
S: Did the Vice President send you?
G: Senator, we were there on behalf of the president.
S: Did you talk to the vice president about it?
G: We were there on behalf of the president.
S: You won't answer that question as well, is that correct?
G; We were there on behalf of the president.

It goes on, but you get the idea. This was not a case of Gonzales claiming some form of privilege or trying the old, "I have no recollection of..." trick. He just sat there, stared at Schumer, and refused to answer. Josh sums up exactly what's going on here and why it should be so alarming.

Testifying before Congress is like being called to testify in court. You have to answer every question. Every question. You can fudge and say you don't remember something and see how far you get. Or you can invoke various privileges. And it's up to the courts to decide if the invocations are valid. But it's simply not permitted to refuse to answer a question. It is quite literally contempt of Congress.

The real question here is, however, when the person in question is the one who is supposed to be responsible for enforcing the law and bringing charges against the guilty, who do you go to in order to prosecute him? And what if Bush and Cheney just turn around and say, "Too bad. We're not budging." in response to your next line of attack?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Be Nice