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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 07:47 AM
Original message
Edited on Thu May-17-07 07:49 AM by Demeter

Mr. Gonzaless Incredible Adventure

There were many fascinating threads to the testimony on Tuesday by the former deputy attorney general, James Comey, who described the night in March 2004 when two top White House officials tried to pressure an ailing and hospitalized Attorney General John Ashcroft into endorsing President Bushs illegal wiretapping operation.

But the really big question, an urgent avenue for investigation, is what exactly the National Security Agency was doing before that night, under Mr. Bushs personal orders. Did Mr. Bush start by authorizing the agency to intercept domestic e-mails and telephone calls without first getting a warrant?

Mr. Bush has acknowledged authorizing surveillance without a court order of communications between people abroad and people in the United States. That alone violates the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Domestic spying without a warrant would be an even more grievous offense.

The question cannot be answered because Mr. Bush is hiding so much about the program. But whatever was going on, it so alarmed Mr. Comey and F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller that they sped to the hospital, roused the barely conscious Mr. Ashcroft and got him ready to fend off the White House chief of staff, Andrew Card, and Mr. Bushs counsel, Alberto Gonzales. There are clues in Mr. Comeys testimony and in earlier testimony by Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Ashcrofts successor, that suggest that Mr. Bush initially ordered broader surveillance than he and his aides have acknowledged.

Mr. Comey said the bizarre events in Mr. Ashcrofts hospital room were precipitated by a White House request that the Justice Department sign off on a continuation of the eavesdropping, which started in October 2001. Mr. Comey, who was acting attorney general while Mr. Ashcroft was ill, refused. Mr. Comey said his staff had reviewed the program as it was then being run and believed it was illegal.

So someone at the White House (and Americans need to know who) dispatched Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card to Mr. Ashcrofts hospital bed. Mr. Ashcroft flatly refused to endorse the program, Mr. Comey said. Later, he said, Mr. Bush agreed to change the wiretapping in ways that enabled Justice to provide a legal rationale. Mr. Comey would not say why he opposed the original program which remains secret or how it was changed.

With the benefit of Mr. Comeys testimony, we can see how Mr. Gonzales, in his effort to mislead the Congress and confuse the American public about how much their civil liberties were being violated, may have unintentionally given away vital clues that only now are falling into place.

While testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in February 2006, Mr. Gonzales was asked if Mr. Comey had expressed reservations about the eavesdropping program. Mr. Gonzales replied, There has not been any serious disagreement about the program that the president has confirmed. By that, he must have meant the program that included modifications made after the hospital visit and after Mr. Comeys meeting with Mr. Bush.

Pressed by Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, Mr. Gonzales said Mr. Comeys concerns dealt with operational capabilities that were not part of the program Mr. Bush has acknowledged. Mr. Gonzales would not describe those capabilities, of course. Yesterday, Mr. Schumer wrote Mr. Gonzales and asked him to reconcile Mr. Comeys account with his own.

The Republican-controlled Congress did a disservice to the nation by refusing to hold Mr. Bush to account for the illegal wiretapping. The current Congress should resume a vigorous investigation of this egregious abuse of power.

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HereSince1628 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 08:05 AM
Response to Original message
1. I sure wish it was the big one n/t
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Bonhomme Richard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 08:27 AM
Response to Original message
2. For it to be the big one our party needs..................
to grow some balls and do what is right for the nation.
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Poppy Lee Donating Member (7 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 09:35 AM
Response to Original message
3. The Media cannot be permitted to ignore this one . . .
Dubya and his retinue have been given a pass by the on serious issues since the beginning of the 2000 campaign. Whether its voter intimidation, election fraud, initiation of wrongful attacks and actual war, with the knowledge that the public rationale is false, the subornation of perjury, the politicization of the civil service in direct Hatch Act violations, the Bush Administration has continually violated law after law and continually been given a pass by the media. With the exception of occasional exposes of underling wrongdoing, Bush, Cheney, Rove have not been held accountable.

This is not about underling error, this is about conscious, political machinations as evil as Nixon's RatF**king.

Perhaps the only way to focus media attention is to utilize their own internal critics. Most major media now have Ombudsmen or similar analysts. They have their own organization with an online membership list. It's time to make a concerted effort to make the editorial policy makers understand that this is their country to protect, too. Surf .
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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. New York Times Chimes In

The Gonzales Coverup
Congress must find out what the administration was doing that its own lawyers wouldn't approve.

Thursday, May 17, 2007; A16

WHY IS IT only now that the disturbing story of the Bush administration's willingness to override the legal advice of its own Justice Department is emerging? The chief reason is that the administration, in the person of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, stonewalled congressional inquiries and did its best to ensure that the shameful episode never came to light.

In February 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee was inquiring into the warrantless wiretapping program whose existence had been revealed just two months before. Sketchy details had also begun to emerge of the March 2004 hospital room ambush, in which Mr. Gonzales, then the White House counsel, and then-White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. tried to browbeat the gravely ill Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had temporarily yielded his office to his deputy, into approving the warrantless surveillance program.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who was then chairing the Judiciary Committee, got Mr. Gonzales to agree to have Mr. Ashcroft testify. But when Mr. Specter followed up with a letter asking as well that the department approve the appearance of former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, Mr. Gonzales balked.

If called to testify, Mr. Ashcroft and Mr. Comey wouldn't be allowed to reveal "confidential Executive Branch information," William E. Moschella, an assistant attorney general, wrote to Mr. Specter. "In light of their inability to discuss such confidential information . . . we do not believe that Messrs. Ashcroft and Comey would be in a position to provide any new information to the committee."

If you were Mr. Gonzales, you'd certainly want to make sure they stayed quiet. Consider: Mr. Gonzales, as the president's lawyer, went to the hospital room of a man so ill he had temporarily relinquished his authority. There, Mr. Gonzales tried to persuade Mr. Ashcroft to override the views of the attorney general's own legal counsel. When the attorney general refused, Mr. Gonzales apparently took part in a plan to go forward with a program that the Justice Department had refused to certify as legal.

Then, when part of the story became public, Mr. Gonzales resorted to word-parsing. "ith respect to what the president has confirmed, I believe -- I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you're identifying had concerns about this program," he said.

Mr. Gonzales's lack of candor is no longer surprising. What's critical here is that lawmakers get a full picture of what happened, obtaining whatever documents -- Office of Legal Counsel opinions -- and testimony are necessary, behind closed doors if need be. "Jim Comey gave his side of what transpired that day," White House press secretary Tony Snow said yesterday. If there's another side to the story, we'd like to hear it.

What was the administration doing, and what was it willing to continue to do, that its lawyers concluded was without a legal basis? Without an answer to that fundamental question, the coverup will have succeeded.

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loudsue Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
6. March 2004....right after KERRY won the Dem nomination.
My guess is they were going to wire-tap his campaign, as well. In fact, they DID end up getting confidential information about his campaign, so I wonder if it was due to wire taps.

Just sayin' .....

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Demeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 01:11 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Even My Local Fish Wrap Reported On This Hospital Trip!
When the Ann Arbor News sees fit to mention something of national import, things are going down!
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salin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-18-07 06:31 AM
Response to Reply #3
10. as evil? I would say surpassing the evil of Nixon's

Btw, welcome to DU :hi:
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
7. "The Big One" is Iraq, for me.
But I'll take whatever I can get to be rid of these traitors.
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katty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-17-07 04:01 PM
Response to Original message
8. Mr. Gonzales carrys pen and paper to the ER
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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri May-18-07 05:13 AM
Response to Original message
9. K&R. I hope you're right about this being the big one.
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