Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Three for Helen Thomas

Documents contradict Gonzales' testimony

WASHINGTON - Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, come as senators consider whether a perjury investigation should be opened into conflicting accounts about the program and a dramatic March 2004 confrontation leading up to its potentially illegal reauthorization.

A Gonzales spokesman maintained Wednesday that the attorney general stands by his testimony.

At a heated Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, Gonzales repeatedly testified that the issue at hand was not about the terrorist surveillance program, which allowed the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on suspects in the United States without receiving court approval.

Instead, Gonzales said, the emergency meetings on March 10, 2004, focused on an intelligence program that he would not describe.

Gonzales, who was then serving as counsel to Bush, testified that the White House Situation Room briefing sought to inform congressional leaders about the pending expiration of the unidentified program and Justice Department objections to renew it. Those objections were led by then-Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey, who questioned the program's legality.

"The dissent related to other intelligence activities," Gonzales testified at Tuesday's hearing. "The dissent was not about the terrorist surveillance program."

"Not the TSP?" responded Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. "Come on. If you say it's about other, that implies not. Now say it or not."

"It was not," Gonzales answered. "It was about other intelligence activities."

A four-page memo from the national intelligence director's office shows that the White House briefing with the eight lawmakers on March 10, 2004, was about the terror surveillance program, or TSP.
The Bush Administration is composed of two classes of people: those who, whether due to fear of being caught or some vestigial moral sense prefer not to lie under oath and thus choose contempt (Miers, Bolton), and those who, whether due to omertà or a surfeit of sociopathy, lie under oath the way most of us buy gasoline -- whenever we feel the need, and without a shred of guilt (Gonzales, Lurita Doane).

We know that what Gonzo does is fully embraced by his boss. But I'd like to see him do so explicitly. So if Fearless Leader ever holds another press conference, I'd like to see an actual reporter (that is, Helen Thomas) ask him the following:

"Do you believe that members of your administration have an obligation to tell the truth when testifying under oath?"

"And do you believe that they should be prosecuted for failing to do so?"

And finally:

"Would you pardon a member of your administration convicted of perjury?"

We know what the behind-closed-doors answers are. But I want it on the record.

Update: The Anonymous Liberal points to questioning of Gonzo from DiFi that goes a good ways toward what I am looking for:

FEINSTEIN: Let me ask you this: If the president determined that a truthful answer to questions posed by the Congress to you, including the questions I ask here today, would hinder his ability to function as commander in chief, does the authorization for use of military force or his asserted plenary powers authorize you to provide false or misleading answers to such questions?

GONZALES: Absolutely not, Senator. Of course not.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you. I just asked the question. A yes or no...

GONZALES: Nothing would excuse false statements before the Congress.

OTOH, if Bush said "Lie, Fredo, lie," he would feel perfectly free to say what he believed lying is inexcusable even if it was, you know, a lie.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only way to prevent Bush from pardoning anyone is to impeach him before he can.

4:40 AM  
Blogger bluememe said...

I don't have time to look for the reference at the moment, but IIRC, he cannot pardon for inherent contempt of Congress.

If the legislature finds its institutional spine, we might get there.

8:07 AM  
Anonymous Maalox said...

You are working on the assumption that Gonzo is being mendacious. I don't disagree based on the perma-smirk he taunts his inquisitors with, yet- for sake of any RWA's willing to defend his position- even if he is just forgetful or confused about the events in question, is this a guy you want in charge of American Justice?

Even if he means well he will inevitably harm America through his distinct lack of ability. Supporting him means you hate America. Congress is parading this buffoon on camera for the world to witness his stupidity. This man is a weakness that needs to be addressed before the people who wish harm on America can act on this weakness.

8:18 AM  

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