Friday, July 27, 2007

On The Importance Of Being Important

Here are the three most important news stories of yesterday, according to Larisa Alexandrovna:

FBI Director's testimony contradicts Alberto Gonzales.
FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress Thursday that the confrontation between then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in Ashcroft's hospital room in 2004 concerned a controversial surveillance program -- an apparent contradiction of Senate testimony given Tuesday by Gonzales.

Mueller said he spoke with Ashcroft soon after Gonzales left the hospital and was told the meeting dealt with "an NSA [National Security Agency] program that has been much discussed, yes."

Mueller made the comment as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gonzales, now attorney general, said he had visited the ailing Ashcroft in the hospital to discuss "other intelligence activities," not the surveillance program.
and more from CNN.

Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats ask for special prosecutor to investigate Alberto Gonzales for perjury.
At a news conference this afternoon, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Alberto Gonzales on perjury charges.

Sens. Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Russ Feingold, and Sheldon Whitehouse explained in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement that “it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee. They wrote:
We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.
Yesterday, the AP revealed documentary evidence that contradicted Gonzales’ sworn testimony regarding the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Gonzales had said a White House intelligence briefing in 2004 were in regards to “other intelligence activities.” Then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte confirmed in a May 2006 memorandum that the meeting was in fact about the NSA program.
and more from Think Progress.

Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas Karl Rove.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Thursday issued a subpoena for top White House adviser Karl Rove to compel him to testify about the firing of several U.S. attorneys.

“The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases,” Leahy said. “It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort.”

Leahy issued the subpoenas, one to Rove and one to White House aide Scott Jennings, after consulting with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee’s ranking member.

“The Bush-Cheney White House continues to place great strains on our constitutional system of checks and balances,” Leahy added. “Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability.”

The move is a further escalation of the constitutional battle between Congress and the White House over whether Bush administration officials must provide testimony and documents to legislative branch investigators.
and more from The Hill.

According to Larisa, these are the
stories that EVERYONE should be talking about, thinking about, debating, etc.
You may imagine my joy at seeing this comment, implicitly relegating my hard day's blogging -- eight posts on such irrelevancies as the arrest of Korey Rowe, the conviction of Awaab Iqbal, prayers at Lal Masjid, and the Iraq Oil Law -- to the dustbin.

But in fact there's no need to imagine any such thing. I am only kidding, the imagined slight was clearly unintended, and in any case Larisa gave me a chance to wiggle off the hook when she mentioned
the 50 or so stories about Iraq, coming from Iraq, and so forth in which numerous Iraqi deaths, US military deaths, contract rigging scams, and so forth were discussed.
On the theory that one could "squeeze" the Iraq Oil Law into the category of "contract rigging scams" -- and how else could one classify the "greatest" heist in "legal" history? -- I see a chance to slip the hook and scramble to my frozen feet, but not without mentioning the three most important stories of the day, which as Larisa correctly points out
have to do with the state of our nation, as it affects ALL of us.
So here we go:

[1] Of course Alberto Gonzales lied! Did you think Robert Mueller was going to perjure himself to protect Gonzales? I didn't.

Anybody else? Ok.

Now: What's the probability that anything will come of this? Slim to none, maybe a shade less. Anyone disagree?

[2] A Special Counsel to investigate the Attorney General for perjury? Because four Senate Democrats say that's what we need to do? Good one! Next!!

[3] Does anyone seriously think Karl Rove is ever going to testify under oath anywhere?

The Commander Guy has already Decided that his conversations with eminent legal scholar Harriet Miers are protected by executive privilege. Do you seriously think he would Decide anything different for his political tactician?

Thus, in brief, run my thoughts on these stories that EVERYONE should be talking about.

In even briefer: This administration has shown brazen contempt for the Rule of Law and the prerogatives of Congress (which Congress has not tried very hard to protect, or exercise) -- and it has done so repeatedly, consistently, and very proudly.

These thugs have made no secret of their legal "philosophy": Law protects the weak from the strong, and we are the strong, so the law is our enemy. And they're not kidding; they've cheered the invasion of Iraq as a "victory" over international law, as you may recall.

And now -- with the stench of rotting blood unmistakable, with the bodies piling up everywhere, with phrases like "acts of treason" and "crimes against humanity" on the lips of everyone who's been paying attention, and with all the power of the "unitary executive" in their ruthless hands -- what makes you think they'll show any respect for the Rule of Law now?

Here's a clue from White House spokesman Tony Fratto:
"Every day this Congress gets a little more out of control — a new call for a special prosecutor, a new investigation launched, a new subpoena issued, an unprecedented contempt vote and an old score somehow settled ..."
Never mind that the contempt is unprecedented; never mind that this is not about any old scores, never mind that nothing is settled; are we really supposed to believe that it's the Congress that's out of control?

With administration spokesmen making such statements, what makes you think they'll show any respect for the Rule of Law ever?

I think there's a better chance they'll invade Pakistan!


And I thought this story was even more important, at least in the sense that it has the potential to affect some very passionate Americans who don't usually get involved in politics.

But surely the media will bury the Pat Tillman stories as deep as they've buried the subpoena for Karl Rove.

Speaking of which: the supposedly liberal New York Times gave the "Rove Subpoenaed" story only a cursory mention, buried deep within David Stout's story on Robert Mueller's testimony ...

... which counts as a feather in the cold blogger's cap, in my opinion. I may have neglected the "Rove Subpoenaed" story somewhat, and I may have pooh-poohed it a bit too, but even though I say so myself, I'm doing a lot better on this one than the New York Times ...

... and that tells you more than you could ever want to know about how much trouble we're in.