Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wide Open

The elephant in the room in the U.S. Attorney scandal is this: the Bush team might well be choose to dig their heels in on principle -- they don't have many, but preservation of their absolute monarchy is one of them -- but it is also a pretty safe bet that if they are willing to go nukular to avoid telling the truth, the truth must be pretty damned bad. In other words, what we don't yet know is likely to be a lot worse than what we do know.

Thursday's WaPo gives us a taste of what is coming:

Prosecutor Says Bush Appointees Interfered With Tobacco Case
The leader of the Justice Department team that prosecuted a landmark lawsuit against tobacco companies said yesterday that Bush administration political appointees repeatedly ordered her to take steps that weakened the government's racketeering case.

Sharon Y. Eubanks said Bush loyalists in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's office began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the government's claim that the industry had conspired to lie to U.S. smokers.

"The political people were . . . ordering us to say what we said," lawyer Sharon Y. Eubanks said.

She said a supervisor demanded that she and her trial team drop recommendations that tobacco executives be removed from their corporate positions as a possible penalty. He and two others instructed her to tell key witnesses to change their testimony. And they ordered Eubanks to read verbatim a closing argument they had rewritten for her, she said.

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," Eubanks said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

This could well bust open the floodgates. There are probably dozens of similar stories of zampolit control of the DOJ (see, e.g., the aborted DOJ Abramoff investigation), and every time one of them goes public, the story's legs get longer.

Though I was perhaps a bit premature, I predicted this effect some time ago, and rather eloquently if I do say so myself:

Silence is not bought from the living; it is merely rented. As Congress grows restive, the Bush cabal will find they can no longer pay that rent, and Washington will start getting louder.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stay Gonzo. Stay.

Let's see how many more skeletons come out of the closet dancing the macarena before his boss decides he is radioactive.

The flipside of this scandal just got more interesting as well. The NH phone jamming case from the 2004 elections was just neutered by overturning the conviction. Sununu was the first republican to go public with his call for Gonzo to quit.

Something tells me there are a dozen skeletons ready to do the electric slide...

5:49 AM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

My Father-in-law reminds me that they got Al Capone on tax evasion. And they got Nixon not for Watergate, but for the cover up. And now we have a lot of the same characters from that administration, and from the Bush I Iran-Contra scandal involved in this administration.

This is nowhere near the worst thing this administration has done, but it might be the thing that brings it down.

But then I thought the same thing about Plamegate.

Incidentally, if Bush and Cheny are both impeached at teh same time, does Speaker Pelosi become President Pelosi?

12:31 AM  
Blogger bluememe said...

All indications are currently that the US Attorney scandal is going to be the battleground now. Bush could have let it go, and seems to be holding a losing hand, but he decided (or Cheney decided for him) to go all in. Fasten your seatbelts, y'all.

Yeah, esoder, I think Pelosi would become Prez under that circumstance, but I don't think anyone would let it play out that way for just that reason. (And given the fact that you need 2/3rds in the Senate to convict, it ain't gonna happen anytime soon anyhow.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Dr. Bloor said...

We shall see. I'm skeptical that many USAs will come forward with stories as compelling as Eubanks--not because they're not out there, but because they may perceive safety in numbers and prefer not to draw any attention to themselves.

Beyond that, the key is how many of these stories need to come out before a critical mass of Repubs in congress make plain their disgust with the assministration. I'd expect a slow bleed rather than anything blowing open until that happens.

1:45 PM  

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