Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval

Step 3 of the Justice Departments "Plan For Replacing Certain United States Attorneys" begins with the header: Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval. Step 3 reads thusly:
U.S. Attorneys desiring to save their jobs (aided by their allies in the political arena as well as their allies in the Justice Department community), likely will make efforts to preserve themselves in office. We should expect these efforts to be strenuous.
Recipients of such "appeals" must [must is underscored in the original] respond identically:

What? U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president (there is no right nor should there be any expectation that U.S. attorneys would be entitled to serve beyond their four-year term)

Who decided? The administration made the determination to seek the resignations (not any specific person at the White House or the Department of Justice).

Why me? The administration is grateful for your service, but wants to give someone else the chance to serve in your district.

I need more time! The decision is to have a new acting or interim U.S. attorney in place by January 31, 2007 (granting ``extensions'' will hinder the process of getting a new U.S. attorney in place and giving that person the opportunity to serve for a full two years).
There are two problems I have with this plan. First, and least importantly: I am sick and freaking tired of the barrage of vapid administration daily talking points. Here we have in memo form a list of talking points which administration figures MUST (underlined) adhere to when being questioned on the firings. "We are grateful for your service but we are giving someone else a chance". This is just the sort of mindless pablum that passes for answers all the time from this administration. There really is no meaning or substance to that answer. And there is no getting beyond it if the person who is giving that answer just rinses and repeats it until the questioner has to throw up their hands in despair and move to the next source. Who will give the same freaking answer!

These talking points sound like a White House press briefing. "The Administration made the determination", not anyone in particular. Like there is some sort of ethereal embodiment called the administration which makes independent judgements beyond the knowledge of the members of the publicly perceived "administration". It is just this type of maddening non responsive, non answer to valid questions that I really find objectionable about so much of this administrations interaction with the public.

The next objection I have to this plan, and the most important in regards to actual consequences of the entire affair, is that it shows an evident determination to obstruct Congressional inquiry into the matter. The instruction clearly encompasses responses to questions from Congress members. Being intentionally non responsive to various people is one thing, but instructing administration officials to be non responsive when questioned by Congress is obstruction pure and simple. I believe this instruction serves as written proof of a conspiracy by the administration to obstruct Congress, and that is against the law.

That misleading testimony was given to Congress is beyond doubt. Gonzales admitted it in yesterdays press conference, and today President Bush said:
Any time anybody goes up to Capitol Hill, they've got to make sure they fully understand the facts and how they characterize the issue to members of Congress,... And the fact that both Republicans and Democrats feel like that there was not straightforward communication troubles me and it troubles the attorney general. So he took action, and he needs to continue to take action."

There is a reason Gonzales and now Bush have expressed regret that testimony to Congress has not been complete and even misleading. If there was coordination in making that testimony incomplete and misleading, how is that not a violation of law? What Gonzales said at yesterdays press conference, and the President also seems to be saying today in an effort to mitigate the damage, was that the false testimony was simply a function of everyone not being aware of all the facts and what not. It looks like it may be Bush and Gonzales that are not giving the complete answer in this regard, and the testimony was given per instructions in step three of the plan. Frankly this obfuscation from Bush and Gonzales would just be more of the same, and what else should we expect at this point?

There is a reason Gonzales and now Bush have expressed regret that testimony to Congress has not been complete and even misleading.

Lawbreaking aside, seems to me that just the firestorm itself would be enough for Bush to have regrets. Shallow that man is.
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