President Bush's Attorney General, Alberton Gonzales, lied to Senators while under oath in a Senate hearing yesterday (which is the definition of perjury), but despite dancing up to the line of actually saying "LYING" and "PERJURY" the senators, both Republican and Democrat, broke out their college thesauruses and used EVERY WORD BUT the plain English "lying."
The Senator's unwillingness or inability to come out and say "Attorney General Gonzales is LYING to us, and should therefore be removed from office" serves to remind us why then Texas Governor George W. Bush's "STRAIGHT SHOOTER" campaign of 2000 was so popular with many American voters (despite the fact that the Texas governor was being anything but honest and straight-forward about his controversial past history and career record, in which his campaign effectively suppressed questions into his AWOL status, any criminal convictions he may have had, his DUI conviction, his "dumping" of Harken energy stock, and his insider status in the Texas Rangers stadium consortium, among other details that Mr. Bush was far less than forthcoming.)
The question today is, are the Senators merely courtiers - will they accept the insulting, incompetent, deceitful answers of the Attorney General as the price of maintaining their exalted status in Washington? - or will they actually insist that justice and constitutional oversight be maintained in American government, at the expense of confronting the Bush-Rove-Cheney-Gonzales White House?
One has to give the president and his minions credit: despite being mired down in an unpopular war, despite a long list of criminal activities from within the White House, including (but not limited to) former VP Chief of Staff Lewis 'Scooter' Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice CONVICTIONS, despite having approval ratings that put them on the level of a frog in a mudhole, the president and his officials can turn the entire US senate into a useless debating society - a debating society that is afraid to even use the word "lying"!
The fates, or gods on Mt. Olympus, must be laughing at the American congress....officials from the White House can't tell the truth, about anything, if their lives depended on it, and still the majority party can't bow down to the emperor with no clothes fast enough!
Special Prosecutor Weighed for Gonzales
Lara Jakes Jordan
July 24, 2007
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WASHINGTON — Angry senators suggested a special prosecutor should investigate misconduct at the Justice Department, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday of deceit on the prosecutor firings and President Bush's eavesdropping program.
Democrats and Republicans alike hammered Gonzales in four hours of testimony as he denied trying, as White House counsel in 2004, to push a hospitalized attorney general into approving a counterterror program that the Justice Department then viewed as illegal.
Gonzales, alternately appearing wearied and seething, vowed anew to remain in his job even as senators told him outright they believe he is unqualified to stay.
He would not answer numerous questions, including whether the Bush administration would bar its U.S. attorneys from pursuing contempt charges against current and former White House officials who have defied congressional subpoenas for their testimony.
"It's hard to see anything but a pattern of intentionally misleading Congress again and again," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., told Gonzales during the often-bitter Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "Shouldn't the attorney general of the United States meet a higher standard?"
"Obviously, there have been instances where I have not met that standard, and I've tried to correct that," Gonzales answered.
The hearing rekindled a political furor that began with last year's firings of nine U.S. attorneys and led to disclosure of a Justice Department hiring process that favored Republican loyalists. Gonzales has soldiered on with Bush's support, despite repeated calls for his resignation and questions about his role in a hospital room confrontation with then-Attorney General John Ashcroft over whether to renew a classified but potentially illegal national security program.
"Of course the president continues to have full confidence in the attorney general," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said after the hearing ended. "We have every reason to believe that the attorney general testified truthfully."
In one withering exchange, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., noted a potential need for a special prosecutor to bring contempt citations against two White House officials who have refused to testify about the U.S. attorney firings. The House Judiciary Committee will vote Wednesday on the citations against Bush chief of staff Josh Bolten and former presidential counsel Harriet Miers.
Normally, the U.S. attorney in Washington would bring such criminal contempt cases to a federal grand jury for possible indictment and prosecution. But the Justice Department, in a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday, said criminal contempt of Congress law "does not apply" to the president or his aides when they invoke executive privilege.
Despite repeated questions, Gonzales refused to say whether he would allow a presidentially appointed prosecutor to investigate White House aides who Bush has said are covered by executive privilege and therefore exempt from talking.
That leaves open the door for presidents to shut down the checks-and-balances of congressional oversight, Specter said.
"You're asking me a question that's related to an ongoing controversy," Gonzales protested.
Specter, top Republican on the panel, said he was merely asking if Gonzales recognized the constitutional problem at hand.
"Would you focus on my question for just a minute, please?" Specter asked.
He added: "I'm not going to pursue that question, Mr. Attorney General, because I see it's hopeless. ... You're the attorney general, and you're also a lawyer. And we're dealing with a very fundamental controversy."
In another flashpoint, Gonzales denied he tried to pressure the ailing Ashcroft into renewing the counterterror program in March 2004, as recounted in testimony earlier this year by former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey. At the time, Ashcroft refused to give his OK to Gonzales and then-White House chief of staff Andy Card, saying he had delegated authority to make that decision to Comey, who questioned the program's legality.
Gonzales described the encounter at Ashcroft's hospital bedside as having come at the bidding of congressional leaders who urged the administration to continue the program. He said he and Card "didn't press him. We said, 'Thank you,' and we left."
"We went there because we thought it was important for him to know where the congressional leadership was on this," Gonzales said.
Later, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Gonzales was "untruthful" Tuesday in describing the White House meeting where the congressional leaders supposedly approved continuing the program. Former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle, who also would have been included, said in a statement he has "no recollection of such a meeting and believe that it didn't occur."
"I am quite certain that at no time did we encourage the AG or anyone else to take such actions," Daschle said in the statement in response to reporters' questions.
Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Gonzales stands by his testimony.
Senators furiously accused Gonzales of misleading them a year ago when he testified there were no internal objections to the eavesdropping program that targeted suspected terrorists in the United States. Gonzales, however, said the hospital confrontation dealt with a different intelligence program that he would not identify.
"The disagreement that occurred, and the reason for the visit to the hospital, senator, was about other intelligence activities," Gonzales said.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Gonzales' refusal to answer direct questions about the program demonstrated deceit.
"How can you say you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercises like this?" Schumer asked. "You want to be attorney general, you should be able to clarify it yourself."
"There's a discrepancy here in sworn testimony," added committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. "We're going to have to ask who's telling the truth, who's not."
After numerous apologies and promises to repair the Justice Department, the normally placid Gonzales was visibly frustrated and at times angered at senators unwillingness to move past the controversy. He flinched as the hearing ended and protesters loudly heckled him as he shook lawmakers' hands.
Yet Gonzales also tried to appease senators who asked why he hasn't resigned.
"Would you please explain to us why the administration of justice and the American people would not be better served by somebody sitting in the office who does not have all of the problems that you possess with respect to believability, credibility, confidence, trust?" asked Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis.
"Ultimately I have to decide whether or not it would be better for me to leave or just stay and try to fix the problems," Gonzales said with a rueful smile. "I've decided to stay and fix the problems."