Monday, August 27, 2007



A one word description of the Bush Regime might be "lawless." It sort of sums the whole mess up nicely. I never thought Alberto Gonzales was one of the masterminds of evil, not the way Rove and Cheney, for example were. He was more the useful idiot, a low grade pal of the low grade presidunce who feels comfy around people who aren't terribly brilliant. It seemed unbelievable that Gonzales, caught in one lie after another, after another, after another hung in there so long. But he became a living mantra for "He serves at the pleasure of the president." And the presidunce insists he is the president and the decision maker and he takes himself very seriously.

Yesterday I did a little research into the U.S. backed (run) coup in Vietnam that ended in the brutal murder of the U.S. puppet president, Ngo Dinh Diem, and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. Why the brother? Nhu didn't have an official role in the government but he carried out many of the functions of the Attorney General, at least in terms of being a regime strongman. He ran a private militia whose job was to buck up the authoritarian rule of his corrupt family. He was a big proponent of torture of "enemies of the regime." In the U.S., presidents have chosen someone they could trust to walk off a cliff for them and break any law for them. John Kennedy had his brother. Nixon's first Attorney General, John Mitchell, went to prison rather than spill the beans. Bush started with a political hack, religionist nutcase and far right extremist, defeated Missouri Senator John Ashcroft, but he wasn't enough of an insider and he was eventually replaced with cipher Alberto Gonzales, a man with no independent base outside of BushWorld and a man of no accomplishments whatsoever outside of his relationship with Bush.

So, as the foul, foul regime unwinds, who is enough of a tool to make Bush comfortable with. I imagine a prerequisite will be an agreement not to investigate-- and to prevent the investigation of-- lots and lots and lots of lawlessness... and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. So far this morning the name on everyone's lips is Chertoff, the man who is best known for avoiding any responsibility-- as head of the Department of Homeland Security-- for the catastrophe of New Orleans.

The Senate will have to confirm whichever partisan hack Bush decides on. They should take this responsibility seriously and not rubber stamp Bush's whim. What is called for now is not a Ngo Dinh Nhu, a John Mitchell, a Bobby Kennedy, an Ed Meese or an Alberto Gonzales, but someone who is truly independent who will serve the interests of the American people, not the defensive needs of a crumbling lawless regime. The Senate should refuse to even consider anyone with close ties to the Bush regime. It isn't what America needs now. Being an insider should be a disqualifier.

Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will get the first crack at whatever crook Bush tries to get into the job, issued a statement just now, a statement that gets to the heart of the problem: Bush. Leahy has it completely right; let's see if he's got what it takes to convince his Senate colleagues to follow through with his premises. How about Patrick Fitzgerald?
Under this Attorney General and this President, the Department of Justice suffered a severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence.  It is a shame, and it is the Justice Department, the American people and the dedicated professionals of our law enforcement community who have suffered most from it.  
The obligations of the Justice Department and its leaders are to the Constitution, the rule of law and the American people, not to the political considerations of this or any White House.  The Attorney General's resignation reinforces what Congress and the American people already know-- that no Justice Department should be allowed to become a political arm of the White House, whether occupied by a Republican or a Democrat. 
The troubling evidence revealed about this massive breach is a lesson to those in the future who hold these high offices, so that law enforcement is never subverted in this way again.  I hope the Attorney General's decision will be a step toward getting to the truth about the level of political influence this White House wields over the Department of Justice and toward reconstituting its leadership so that the American people can renew their faith in its role as our leading law enforcement agency.


John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has a similar perspective to the one expressed by Senator Leahy. "It is a sad day when the Attorney General of the United States resigns amid a cloud of suspicion that the system of justice has been manipulated for political purposes. More than accountability, we need answers. Unfortunately, the continued stonewalling of the White House in the U.S. Attorney scandal has deprived the American people of the truth. If the power of the prosecutor has been misused in the name of partisanship, we deserve a full airing of the facts. The responsibility to uncover these facts is still on the Congress, and the Judiciary Committee in particular."

Reid gets it too (but will he act on it?):"Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job. He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove. This resignation is not the end of the story. Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White House."

And every line of Russ Feingold's short statement is exactly right, the last one, of course, being the most crucial-- and the one most likely to be compromised on by Russ' pathetic colleagues in the Senate. “Attorney General Gonzales’ tenure was marked by unprecedented politicization of the Department of Justice, deception of Congress and the American people, and disrespect for the rule of law.  He should never have been confirmed and should have resigned long ago.  The first loyalty of the next attorney general must be to the law, not the president.”

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