Friday, July 27, 2007
Attorney General Gonzales duplicitious testimony spurs Senate request for PERJURY inquiry
F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
The news is fast and furious in the 3 days since Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' disgraceful third appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee holding hearings into Gonzales' role in the "purging" of qualified US Attorneys by the Bush White House (throught the Department of Justice) in the aftermath of election landslide wins for Congressional Democrats in the November 2006 elections.
Media and White House talking points attempt to downplay or mislead on the controversy. The heart of the "Purge-gate" controversy is the attempts by the Bush White House to use the most powerful prosecutors in the US government, the US Attorneys, as election influencing partisans - a systematic and chronic effort directed by the White House and administered through Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to purge notn-partisan US Attorneys from office and fill those vacancies with the most partisan of Bush loyalists, in order to get the new, replacement US Attorneys to file bogus criminal indictments against vote-registration activists in the days and weeks immediately before elections.
This simple story - firing non-partisan (but all purged prosecutos were Republican Bush appointees!) US Attorneys to replace them with unqualified party hacks, in order to swing elections by filling false and malicious prosecutions at Democratic-leaning voter-registration activists - becomes COMPLEX and CONFUSING in the retelling, with the many names, places, and secretive White House and Department of Justice meetings and orders numbing the senses of readers, writers, and news viewers.
The second confusing aspect of the Attorney General's testimony before Congress is regarding the immediate cause of then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales' late-night visit to the bedridden, sedated, and recovering from surgery John Ashcroft, who was then Attorney General. The White House - which is to say President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Political Affairs Director Karl Rove, sent White House Counsel Gonzales, and then White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, to the hospital room of (then) Attorney General John Ashcroft, specifically to get the hospitalized Ashcroft to sign an extension of one of the Bush White House's signature programs, the TSP "terrorist surveillance program," which had expired in March 2004. The TSP is a quasi-illegal surveillance, or wiretapping, data-mining, and electronic spying program, potentially ovr any and all American citizens at the president's direction, with no judicial or congressional oversight or restraints.
In an earlier campaign speech, President Bush had arrogantly declared to his audience "Let me be perfectly clar - wiretapping requires a warrant." But in a text-book ecample of Mr. Bush' pathological disconnect (which is to say pathological lying) not only was President Bush being duplicitous in his "let me be perfectly clear - wiretapping requires a warrant" comment, but the the TSP NO OVERSIGHT electronic spying on ANY and ALL Americans, at the executive's sole discretion, was THE SIGNATURE domestic program of Mr. Bush's White House's "war on terror," in terms of domestic policy. (In tandem, that is, with Bush's other domestic policy priorities, such as forcing working Americans to shoulder the burden for tax cuts for the wealthy in time of war; and using the entire federal budget, US Treasury, and specifically US military & war on terror expenditures as slush-funds for cronies, i.e. "PRIVATIZING" the military and war on terror as FOR PROFIT ENTERPRISES for well connected companies who could be counted on to send some of their millions in profits back to the RNC and White House campaigns.)
SPYING on Ameican citizens; warrantless, no oversight, no restraint electronic surveillance; using US Attorneys to file false and malicious prosecutions against Democratic voter registration acitivists in order to criminalize those efforts and thereby tar and smear Democratic Party candidates and thus swing elections to their Republican opponents; using the White House Chief of Staff (Andrew Card) and White House Counsel (then Alberto Gonzales) as a strong-arm hit team to strong-arm a bedridden and sedated Attorney General (then John Ashcroft) to sign an authorization form despite his being sedated and having recused himself from power.... the only thing "confusing" about "Purgegate" and Mr. Gonzales' in-your-face lying testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is the sheer depth and breadth of President Bush, his White House and his Justice Department's efforts to undermine Ameican democracy, by CRIMINALIZING the opposition party, and by attempting to make the ENTIRE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT an electioneering arm of the White House.
Purge-gate and related election-fraud scandals are thus an on-going, steadfast effort to make the entire American populace vulnerable to the strong-arm intimidations of the White House.
Acting Attorney General Comy, the #2. offical at the Department of Justice (as snap-quoted from PBS News Hour highlights Friday July 27) - "I was very upset at what I saw, it looked to me as an attempt to take advantage of a very sick man."
(The effort by then White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, and then White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, to get the sedated and recovering-from-surgery Attorney General John Ashcroft to sign a document extending Mr. Bush's no-warrants, no oversight, no restraints domestic spying program.)
FBI Director Mueller Testimony contradicts Attorney General Gonzales' testimony from previous Day
By David Johnston and Scott Shane
July 27, 2007
WASHINGTON, July 26 — The director of the F.B.I. offered testimony Thursday that sharply conflicted with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’s sworn statements about a 2004 confrontation in which top Justice Department officials threatened to resign over a secret intelligence operation.
The director, Robert S. Mueller III, told the House Judiciary Committee that the confrontation was about the National Security Agency’s counterterrorist eavesdropping program, describing it as “an N.S.A. program that has been much discussed.” His testimony was a serious blow to Mr. Gonzales, who insisted at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that there were no disagreements inside the Bush administration about the program at the time of those discussions or at any other time.
The director’s remarks were especially significant because Mr. Mueller is the Justice Department’s chief law enforcement official. He also played a crucial role in the 2004 dispute over the program, intervening with President Bush to help deal with the threat of mass resignations that grew out of a day of emergency meetings at the White House and at the hospital bedside of John Ashcroft, who was then attorney general.
In a separate development, Senate Democrats, who were unaware of Mr. Mueller’s comments, demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Mr. Gonzales committed perjury in his testimony on Tuesday about the intelligence dispute. The Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, issued a subpoena to Karl Rove, the White House senior political adviser, and another presidential aide, J. Scott Jennings, for testimony about the dismissal of federal prosecutors, another issue that has dogged Mr. Gonzales.
White House officials said the Democrats had engaged in political gamesmanship.
“What we are witnessing is an out-of-control Congress which spends time calling for special prosecutors, starting investigations, issuing subpoenas and generally just trying to settle scores,” said Scott M. Stanzel, a White House spokesman. “All the while they fail to pass appropriations bills and important issues like immigration reform, energy and other problems go unanswered.”
The conflict underscored how Mr. Gonzales’s troubles have expanded beyond accusations of improper political influence in the dismissal of United States attorneys to the handling of the eavesdropping program, in which Mr. Gonzales was significantly involved in his previous post as White House counsel.
“I had an understanding that the discussion was on a N.S.A. program,” Mr. Mueller said in answer to a question from Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Texas, in a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
Asked whether he was referring to the Terrorist Surveillance Program, or T.S.P., he replied, “The discussion was on a national N.S.A. program that has been much discussed, yes.”
Mr. Mueller said he had taken notes of some of his conversations about the issue, and after the hearing the committee asked him to produce them.
An F.B.I. spokesman declined Thursday night to elaborate on Mr. Mueller’s testimony.
In a four-hour appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Mr. Gonzales denied that the dispute arose over the Terrorist Surveillance Program, whose existence was confirmed by President Bush in December 2005 after it had been disclosed by The New York Times. Mr. Gonzales said it centered on “other intelligence activities.”
Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said Thursday night that Mr. Gonzales had testified truthfully, saying “confusion is inevitable when complicated classified activities are discussed in a public forum where the greatest care must be used not to compromise sensitive intelligence operations.”
The spokesman said that when Mr. Gonzales had said there had been no controversy about the eavesdropping operation, he was referring only to the program to intercept international communications that Mr. Bush publicly confirmed.
“The disagreement that occurred in March 2004 concerned the legal basis for intelligence activities that have not been publicly disclosed and that remain highly classified,” Mr. Roehrkasse said.
The four senators seeking an inquiry into Mr. Gonzales’s testimony sent a letter to the Justice Department saying “it is apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements.”
The senators asked for the appointment of a special counsel. While the Justice Department is not obliged to act on their request, the letter reflected the chasm of distrust that has opened between lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee and Mr. Gonzales.
The senators who signed the letter were Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin, Dianne Feinstein of California, Charles E. Schumer of New York and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island. Ms. Feinstein, Mr. Feingold and Mr. Whitehouse are members of the Intelligence Committee and have been briefed on the intelligence programs at issue.
The senators’ letter was sent to Paul D. Clement, the solicitor general, because Mr. Gonzales is recused from investigations of his own conduct. In addition to his statements to Congress about the intelligence controversy, the letter raised the possibility that Mr. Gonzales had lied about the prosecutor firings.
In what amounted to a warning to the attorney general, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, sent Mr. Gonzales the transcript of Tuesday’s hearing, asking him to “mark any changes you wish to make to correct, clarify or supplement your answers so that, consistent with your oath, they are the whole truth.”
Similar requests are routinely sent to witnesses after hearings, but Mr. Leahy’s pointed language underscored his view of the seriousness of the dispute over Mr. Gonzales’s veracity.
Still, neither Mr. Leahy nor Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the committee’s top Republican and a tough critic of Mr. Gonzales, joined in the call for a perjury investigation.
“I don’t think you rush off precipitously and ask for appointment of special counsel to run that kind of an investigation,” Mr. Specter said.
Doubts about Mr. Gonzales’s version of events in March 2004 grew after James B. Comey, the former deputy attorney general, testified in May that he and other Justice Department officials were prepared to resign over legal objections to an intelligence program that appeared to be the N.S.A. program.
Mr. Gonzales’s testimony Tuesday was his first since Mr. Comey’s account drew national attention. He stuck to his account, repeatedly saying that the dispute involved a different intelligence activity.
Mr. Gonzales described an emergency meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House on March 10, 2004, to discuss the dispute. That evening, he and the White House chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., went to the hospital bedside of Mr. Ashcroft in an unsuccessful effort to get his reauthorization for the secret program.
Lawmakers present at the afternoon meeting have given various accounts, but several have said that only one program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was discussed.
In addition, in testimony last year, Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who was the N.S.A. director when the program started and now heads the Central Intelligence Agency, said the March 2004 meeting involved the Terrorist Surveillance Program.
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