Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Gonzales Dance

Juggling language and side-stepping reality, the nation's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under withering heat for a first-of-its-kind firing of US attorneys.

It's unique since it's the first time the firings and replacements have occurred under the rules of The Patriot Act - which means the Senate does not have to confirm any choices made. Not that any emergency existed to invoke the Patriot Act. It was just handy to avoid Congress.

Also worth noting is how much Gonzales has actively misled the public and congress about the mass firings. It's gone from an episode of "good management" to a mistake-filled process. In January of this year Gonzales said:

That fact that that happens quite frankly some people should view that as a sign of good management. What we do is make an evaluation about the performance of individuals and I have a responsibiity that we have the best possible people in that position.

"I would never ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or that in any way would jeopardize an ongoing investigation," Gonzales said. "I just would not do it."

This week he claimed a new stance on the firings:

Like every CEO of every major organization, I am responsible for what happens at the Department of Justice. I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility and my pledge to the American people is to find out what went wrong here, to assess accountability, and to make improvements so that the mistakes in this instance do not occur again in the future."

The President says he was aware of complaints about attorneys, but knew no names or specifics, even though his staff was actively campaigning for firing all the previous attorneys he himself approved in his first term. Bush simply says the explanation was mishandled, but the actions themselves were just fine.

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