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Hullabaloo


Monday, May 21, 2007

 
Believe Me

by digby

Don't you just hate it when people lie to your face about something about which you both know the truth? It's often the kind of thing a boss will do to find out how far you are willing to go to stay in his good graces --- another version of the old "you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes." Will you defend your own sanity or will you tug your forelock and agree to an absurd assertion in order to show fealty to your liege Lord? It's a way of keeping people in line --- force them to abandon their principles and even their notion of truth in order to keep their jobs. It's quite effective.

That is apparently what happened to the senior members of the Justice Department after the hospital drama:

May 28, 2007 issue - Former deputy attorney general James Comey gave a riveting account of a hospital-room confrontation over President George W. Bush's warrantless-wiretapping program. But Comey's testimony last week told only part of the story of the clash sparked when Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, and the then White House chief of staff Andrew Card tried to get an ailing John Ashcroft to recertify Bush's supersecret surveillance activities...

After the incident, there were recriminations over what Comey portrayed as an attempt by Bush's top lawyer and chief of staff to "take advantage" of a very ill man. Comey didn't tell the Senate panel that the bad feelings were stoked even more the next morning when White House officials explained the hospital visit by saying Gonzales and Card were unaware that Comey was acting A.G. (and therefore the only person authorized to sign off on the surveillance program), according to a former senior DOJ official who requested anonymity talking about internal matters. Top DOJ officials were furious, the source said. Just days earlier, Justice's chief spokesman had publicly said Comey would serve as "head of the Justice Department" while Ashcroft was ill. Justice officials had also faxed over a document to the White House informing officials of this. When a Gonzales aide claimed the counsel's office could find no record of it, DOJ officials dug out a receipt showing the fax had been received. "People were disgusted as much as livid," said the DOJ official. "It was just the dishonesty of it." A Gonzales aide at the time (who asked not to be ID'd talking about internal matters) said there was a "miscommunication" and "genuine confusion" over who was in charge. Democratic senators plan a no-confidence vote in Gonzales. They also want him to explain his testimony last year that "there has not been any serious disagreement" about the terrorist-surveillance program.


This is so lame that you have to believe it was one of those tests. The White House counsel didn't know that the Attorney General, who was in the ICU, had officially turned over his duties? Please. If he didn't he should have been fired for incompetence.

But this whole thing fails to account for the shocking fact that in this event, they were willing to have a man who was extremely ill and high on drugs sign off on a secret program that was so controversial that the upper echelon of the DOJ were all refusing to recertify it (including, as it turned out, John Ashcroft himself.)Is that supposed to be acceptable even if he hadn't technically turned over the office to his deputy? Who are these sick people?

This was a typical Bush/Cheney/Rove style power play. They tried a completely unethical end-run that didn't work and then they attempted to make the Justice Department swallow a lie that was so lame that it could only have been a loyalty test. How infuriating.

It's a shame they all didn't resign anyway. An awful lot of damage could have been avoided if more people had. I'm sure it seemed important to stick --- post 9/11 was a stressful time and a lot of people were unsure of their bearings. Still, as more time passes it has become clear that it would have been better if they had all quit.

It's a hard thing to do --- whistleblowers are often somewhat eccentric, because you have to be the kind of unusual person who is willing to go against the prevailing wisdom and throw yourself in front of extremely powerful institutions and people who are deeply threatened by what you have to say. I get why so few people ever do it. And I also get that for many law and order types especially, they may have felt that they were needed on the inside both because of the threat of terrorism and the threat of the rolling constitutional coup that has taken place under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. (And it's not as if the congress or the press were backing up those who did speak out.)

But looking back I still wish they'd all resigned. There are far worse things than being vilified by Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter --- and we should all be willing to be called fools if it might save the constitution. Still, I'm grateful to those who are speaking out now. Better late than never.


Update: Dover Bitch reminds me that this is not the first we've heard of Card lying about the matter. Oh my:

"What conduct? We were just there to wish him well."



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