Democrats & Liberals Archives

Gonzales Gotta Go

Alberto Gonzales is head of the Justice Department. The primary reason for his getting the job is that he has been George W. Bush’s legal buddy for a long time. As attorney general, Gonzales has worked to support Bush’s political policies, which often ran against the administration of egalitarian justice. His latest move, the firing of 8 U.S. attorneys for partisan reasons, is the last straw. Gonzales gotta go.

The 8 fired attorneys were all good Republicans. As a matter of fact, this is how they got their jobs in the first place. However, the administration was unhappy with them because they were not partisan enough or because they refused to pursue witchhunts against Democrats. Imagine that: They thought they were supposed to chase real crooks and terrorists.

Democrats made a stink. Gonzales answered by firing his chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson. It was all Sampson's fault. He, Gonzales, had no idea what was going on. The big-shot in charge is unaware of the big purge? Is there a Republican that believes this?

Karl Rove doesn't see anything wrong here:

The president's entitled to do it. This in my mind is a lot of politics.

I agree with him: The firing of the 8 attorneys "is a lot of politics."

Then there is the usual Republican refrain that Clinton did it too. No way:

As it happens, the Congressional Research Service has just released a report on this. It appears two resigned under pressure -- one because he grabbed a TV reporter by the throat on camera, and the second having been accused of biting a topless dancer.

Forget all the excuses. Excuses is all we get from this administration. This incident occurs after a string of outrageous and anti-justice acts by Gonzales. He said that there is no habeas corpus protection offered by the constitution. (I think he changed his mind about that.) He argued for torture and for wireless wiretapping of Americans. According to the National Journal:

Had it not been quashed, a Justice Department inquiry into the domestic eavesdropping program would likely have examined the actions of Alberto Gonzales.

Here is what Sampson, no doubt under the direction of Gonzales, had done earlier:

In an e-mail, he detailed a strategy for evading Arkansas Democrats in installing Tim Griffin, a former GOP operative and protege of presidential adviser Karl Rove, as the U.S. attorney in Little Rock.

"We should gum this to death," Sampson wrote to a White House aide on Dec. 19. "[A]sk the senators to give Tim a chance . . . then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in 'good faith,' of course."

All this was taking place in the Department of Justice! It's even worse than this:

Bush's Administration is already widely called a "hackocracy" because of his tendency to fill slots with unqualified and incompetent partisan hacks. But the crisis at DOJ goes far beyond that. Even civil service positions - which have been protected from this sort of partisan corruption since the Hatch Act of 1939 - are being politicized. The Boston Globe, for instance, has closely documented the process of weeding out qualified career attorneys from the Civil Rights Division at DOJ and their replacement with political retainers - and the same process has continued throughout the Department.

Maybe Gonzales was a good, loyal lawyer for the president. But he does not belong in the Justice Department, the purpose of which is to assure justice to all. The latest Republican to call for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales is Senator John Sununu.

And of course, Senator Patrick Leahy, head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been fuming against Gonzales. His committee has issued subpoenas to 11 current and former Department of Justice officials. Leahy will get the facts.

This is a scandal. Getting to the bottom of this is important. Former U.S. attorney Kent Alexander expresses the issue very well:

It is a political appointment. The president appoints you. But once you step through those doors in the U.S. Attorney's Office, partisan politics should be left at the door. And then you're representing Justice. You're not representing a political party.

Let the Judiciary Committee get the facts. The facts will show that without a doubt, Gonzales gotta go.

Posted by Paul Siegel at March 15, 2007 5:54 PM
Comment #212138

Paul, this is the latest development:
Exclusive: E-Mails Show Rove’s Role In U.S. Attorney’s Firings
Unreleased E-mail’s Contradict White House Assertions That The Firings Originated With Harriet Miers.

Surprise, surprise! Bushco lies again.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 15, 2007 6:19 PM
Comment #212154

Ha, Ha Adrienne,
I was just reading those stories. I love this. The Chickens keep coming home to roost. They can’t stop lying, if they try. I guess old Al perjured himself.
Let’s see if Rove can twist his way through this one.

Posted by: gergle at March 15, 2007 8:00 PM
Comment #212155

I was wondering how long Tony Snow will allow himself to be lied to or be asked to untwist these contortions. Ari had his fill.

Posted by: gergle at March 15, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #212166

When was the last time an attorney general was named to that position based on being the best qualified candidate that could be found? Right or wrong its always been a political job.

As for the various attorneys who got fired Republicans have never been very good at putting the right people in patronage jobs. They don’t understand that you need to appoint people to these positions who know who the boss is (the party) and who prefer the security of a government job over a better paying but harder working private sector job.
Democrats (the masters of patronage) on the other hand are good at appointing people who understand that they owe their job to the party and will tow the company line under all circumstances and therefore only lose their cushy government job when they retire or die.

You may think me jaded but if you have ever spent any time living in Chicago you know how this works.

Posted by: Carnak at March 15, 2007 9:03 PM
Comment #212212
Democrats … owe their job to the party and will tow the company line under all circumstances

LOL! You’re joking, right? Liberals all acting in unison? I wish (sometimes).

Good article Paul.

You know what’s funny about this administration: They lie even when telling the truth would serve them better.

It may be inappropriate, but it’s certainly not illegal for President Bush to replace those guys (unless he’s actually trying to interfere with an investigation). So why lie about it?

Same with Scooter. Apparently, no crime was committed, but he lied anyhow.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 15, 2007 11:54 PM
Comment #212216


There was a provision in the Patriot Act that gave the president the power to replace government employees quickly and without oversight. The rationale was that employees killed in terrorist acts would need to be replaced quickly.

This was the provision Gonzales used to fire and replace Democrat attorneys with Republican ones. He perverted the Patriot Act. Isn’t that grounds for dismissal?

Posted by: Max at March 16, 2007 12:52 AM
Comment #212217

Been absent for while due to relocation. Now let me get this straight…

Gonzales deliberately subverted the duties of his office for partisan political ends and used arguably illegal and definitely unethical means to do so?

I smell a Medal of Freedom coming!

Posted by: Yossarian at March 16, 2007 1:00 AM
Comment #212231

“Let’s see if Rove can twist his way through this one.”

I read that they’re ready to subpoena him if he refuses to come willingly. Should be interesting to say the least. He’s such an evil twerp.

“You know what’s funny about this administration: They lie even when telling the truth would serve them better.

It may be inappropriate, but it’s certainly not illegal for President Bush to replace those guys (unless he’s actually trying to interfere with an investigation). So why lie about it?”

Seems like it should be illegal to mess with the judiciary for purely unethical reasons though, you know? Anyway you’re right, they really didn’t have to lie about it, but it’s just like they can’t seem to help themselves.

Max, yes. It’s scumbaggery.

Yossarian, nice to see you here again!
Btw, good one. :^D

Posted by: Adrienne at March 16, 2007 4:08 AM
Comment #212240

I don’t think Gonzales will last the month, it is amazing what a little oversight will do to a corrupt administration. I was blown away at the casual way they used emails to incriminate themselves. I don’t think that they planned on ever having the Dems back in power in either house of Congress much less both houses. This was stupidity and bungling all the way down the line. First, to be that sloppy with official communications. Second, to smear your own appointees and anger them enough to go public. Third, to then lie to congress about the reason even though it is not illegal to dismiss an apointee (though it looked bad). Arrogance and stupidity is a bad combination.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at March 16, 2007 9:31 AM
Comment #212243

Walter Reed, the FBI, and now Gonzalez all in less than a two week period. Seems like that snowball won’t quit rolling. Did any of you see Bush a few days ago discussing the Gonzalez situation. He stated he and Al had some fleeting discussion about replaceing some attorneys at a gathering somewhere but he that he did not issue any specifics to Al. And I could not tell if he had a look of embarrasement or guilt or both. But it was definately apparent that he was not comfortable discussing the situation. I don’t think these people are capable of wipeing their a-ses without making a fiasco of it.

Posted by: ILdem at March 16, 2007 9:35 AM
Comment #212257
But it was definately apparent that he was not comfortable discussing the situation.

No doubt he was thinking how best to weasel-word it. These guys are worse than Clinton with the parsing.

I just don’t understand why they don’t come out and admit what they’re doing. Unless they’re actually trying to derail an ongoing investigation, it’s not illegal. It’s an unethical abuse of the Patriot Act (I wonder which other parts they’re abusing), but it’s not illegal. I expect more perjury charges.

Posted by: American Pundit at March 16, 2007 11:18 AM
Comment #212268


Unless they’re actually trying to derail an ongoing investigation, it’s not illegal.

I think that might be the reason, at least for the US Attorney that was in Duke Cunningham’s district and was looking into further prosecutions of Republicans who sold themselves to the CA defense contractors. There doesn’t seem to be any other reason other than stupidity (this isn’t a stretch either).

Posted by: Tom Snediker at March 16, 2007 11:57 AM
Comment #212270


I just don’t understand why they don’t come out and admit what they’re doing.

I think the problem is that all these revelations and suspicions are hurtleing at them so fast that they don’t have time to run for cover, regroup and fashion a reasonable defence. They are getting caught with their pants down and their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. As stated above it all reeks of having something to hide and nobody wants to be the fall guy.

Posted by: ILdem at March 16, 2007 12:01 PM
Comment #212296

To all who wish Gonzalaz fired,

What part of “they serve at the pleasure of the President”, don’t you understand. While I think the handling of this is a PR nightmare caused by anxious liberals ready to pounce on anything, the President has the right and obligation to hire and fire U.S. attorneys at his discretion. The President sets the tone for the justice dept. If the U.S. attorneys don’t follow the tone, then they should be removed. Yes, Clinton did it. I have no problem with that. It was his job at the time. This is Bush’s presidency. It is his call. Get over it.

Posted by: wkw at March 16, 2007 1:14 PM
Comment #212311


Quite simply, no one is disputing the presidents right to do so. It is the manner tied with possible shady political motivations in which they did so that is in question. Once again it comes down to ethical practices and what looks like a hidden pre-arranged and not so honorable agenda.

Yes Clinton did it, almost all Presidents do, but on this large a scale is almost unprecidented.

It seems the president and his cronies are exceptional bunglers. Please, get over it.

Posted by: ILdem at March 16, 2007 1:52 PM
Comment #212321

wkw -

You are missing the point - sure Bush can fire any appointee he wants. It’s two things - one they lied about the reasons to Congress and smeared the people that got let go. Two, if they did fire any one of these people to stop an ongoing investigation it is a crime - obstructing justice (this needs to be investigated). I don’t personally care if any Republican gets fired, there needs to be a lot more of them and in higher office. What I won’t get over is the constant lying (that makes the Clintons look honest by comparison) and the law breaking.

Posted by: Tom Snediker at March 16, 2007 2:12 PM
Comment #212361

I feel the need to share this excellent blogpost with the readers of this thread: Waiting for History

Posted by: Adrienne at March 16, 2007 5:01 PM
Comment #212378

The president can hire and fire appointies as he sees fit with or without explanation. So why all the crying. To bad he can’t fire some of the Federal Judges who legislate from the bench such as the 9th circuit court.

Posted by: KAP at March 16, 2007 6:29 PM
Comment #212400


I checked out the site. Good stuff and an excellent article. I bookmarked it. The comments section is very interesting stuff. Looks like a community of very knowledgable people with a bit of insider information to boot. Thanks!

Posted by: ILdem at March 16, 2007 8:55 PM
Comment #212448

Glad you read and liked that link, ILdem. Firedoglake is an excellent blog that’s been on my personal blogroll for a few years now, and they’re really starting to get a lot of respect these days. FDL was one of the few sites doing live blogging during the Libby Trial so I was over there a lot then. I don’t know how they managed it, but somehow they were given a press pass to sit in the courtroom.

Someone else I’ve been reading for awhile is Glenn Greenwald. Ever heard of him? He used to have his own blog, but recently hired him to keep his blog over there with them.

Here is his latest entry in Salon:
Lying to Congress has become a Republican principle, literally

It’s about this whole Gonzales scandal, and think it’s a great piece. Here’s a few quotes from it:

Reagan officials Eliot Abrams and John Poindexter were both convicted of charges arising out of their lying to Congress, and both were given highly sensitive jobs in the Bush administration, where Abrams remains today. Obviously, not only is lying to Congress not considered a disqualifying flaw by the Bush administration, it is considered a virtue, an exercise of a legitimate right on the part of the President. The heroes of the Republican movement in the 1980s were heroes not despite their lying to Congress, but because of it. It’s considered heroic and noble.

Of course, the reason that lying to Congress is a felony is because Congress is composed of the representatives of the American people, and when executive branch officials lie to Congress, they are lying to the country. They subvert the entire constitutional order by preventing the American people from exercising overisight over the executive branch through their representatives in Congress, and it turns the President into an unchecked, unaccountable ruler. That is precisely why lying to Congress is considered to be virtuous and an entitlement by this administration and the movement which spawned it (the truly bizarre demands for Lewis Libby’s pardon further reflect not merely an indifference, but this same admiration, for those who lie in pursuit of The Right-Wing Cause).

Illegal behavior — in the form of, among other things, continuous and deliberate deceit of the Congress — is pervasive at the highest levels of the Bush Justice Department and it has plainly become a central part of the Republican ethos. It’s become a plank in their ideology, literally.

What I find so interesting about Greenwald is the fact that he considers himself a true conservative Republican — well at least he used to. I notice on his Salon site bio it no longer mentions that fact the way it did on his former blog, so maybe he’s completely abandoned them at this point. However he chooses to vote, I think he’s highly intelligent, honest, and sincere.

Posted by: Adrienne at March 17, 2007 12:26 AM
Comment #212475


I appreciate the directional links. I am, compared to most here, a newby to the blog culture as is probably apparent. I have become almost obsessed with the amount of intellectual information and political insight available. I have also found this a great way to learn history which I now in my fifties find intriquing. In the past I have pretty much relied on a few msm outlets to keep up with events. Now I find myself glanceing over the headlines and going to the blogs to find discussion and get a more diverse and relevant view of the issues. The biggest challenge I find is trying to discern which blogs are deliberately partisan. I think most probably lean a little one way or the other which is allright. But the ones that are extreme and are clearly pursuing an agenda at the expense of honesty, fairness, and sincerity do not appeal to me. I am very impressed with the apparent intellect and knowledge of yourself and most of the others who post here, and do greatly appreciate your expertise and views in what I consider to be probably one of the scariest times in the history of our nation and probably the world.

I have heard the Greenwald name but until now have not seen any of his writings. I have to admit that he very well defines how I personally percieve the character of the current republican legislature. This is not to say that I believe all republicans to be this way, but I do think it quite apparent that the republican legislature and the executive branch is quite clearly mired in what they consider virtuous and noble deciet. Too bad for them because until they realize and correct these issues I think times will be very hard for them with the american voter.

I have bookmarked the Salon site and will check it out later today. Thanks again Adrienne for the help.

Posted by: ILdem at March 17, 2007 10:01 AM
Comment #212517

Since when has Congress been the Board of Directors over the Chief Executive of the United States? Congress is not above the President. They do not determine who the President hires or fires in the case of District Attorneys. That is unless the President is of the opposing political Party, right? Is’nt it funny that libs want to make hay out of 8 District Attorneys released by Bush when Clinton fired 93. Congress should demand to know why Clinton fired District Attorney Jay Stevens right in the middle of his investigation that later took down Congressman Rostenkowski. I guess Hillary’s good friend Rostenkowski was so crooked even the Clintons couldn’t save him.
But, I guess we’ll never know, because, oh yeah, the Democrats were in control of Congress at that time and weren’t concerned with any oversight, right guys?


Posted by: JD at March 17, 2007 2:45 PM
Comment #212594

I can’t help but think of Plato’s progression of Democracy into Tyranny when I think of our president. The President claimed to be “appointed by God” to go after the terrorist, he wants to escalate the war (why so he can run again 08 and not have to give up his office?) and he wants to fire the attorneys (kill the attorneys and burn the books or at least control the flow of information), all in the name of “protection from terrorism”. He who fights dragons long enough becomes a dragon himself. Has our President stepped over the line? Are the Federal Prosecutors being ousted because they found corruption in our Government? When he was elected he wanted to break down our judicial system (which is the system that keeps our politicians behaving themselves) because it looked like they were going to rule the election void. Where are the free thinkers with loud voices from the 60s and 70s, have we gotten too old to speak up? Do we forget how Rome fell from a Republic to an insane tyranny? Once again history is repeating it’s self.

Posted by: Dee at March 18, 2007 1:27 PM
Comment #213782

my friend joe as a great post on this at


Posted by: mia at March 26, 2007 1:48 PM
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