Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's performance testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee was nothing more than a desperate attempt to cover up the gross improprieties of the Bush White House. The chronology of events that led to the firing of the eight United States Attorneys last December seems to have gone something like this:
Karl Rove produced a list of U.S. Attorneys to be canned for not being sufficiently partisan in the cases they chose to prosecute.
Gonzales signed off on the political purge without so much as a second thought because he knew that's what the White House wanted. Gonzales did not question the merits of Rove's list, or look at the performance evaluations, or even give courtesy calls to the targeted attorneys. Gonzales fired them in a pretty brutal manner, but what would you expect from a guy who argued in favor of torturing people?
Karl Rove intended the purge of the U.S. Attorneys to accomplish at least four simultaneous results:
1). Stop or obstruct investigations into Republican public corruption cases. Rove wished to block future "Duke" Cunningham-type prosecutions from emerging that could damage Republicans in 2008.
2). Make it clear to the other eighty-five U.S. Attorneys their jobs were on the line if they did not show sufficient fealty to Rove's political project. The firings threatened them with the prospect of being replaced by "loyal Bushies," (as Sampson put it). Any U.S. Attorney found to be overly aggressive in prosecuting Republican officials on corruption charges might end up with his or her head on a platter.
3). Pepper into the U.S. Attorney offices new super-loyal Republican partisans who would initiate spurious lawsuits against Democratic officials in vital swing districts and states that could be helpful in 2008. Rove wanted to promote prosecutors in the mold of Milwaukee's Steven Biskupic, who brought a groundless suit against a subordinate of Wisconsin's Democratic governor so his Republican challenger could run TV attack ads slamming him for "corruption." (Judge Diane Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh District subsequently tossed out the case saying the evidence was "beyond thin," but not before the political damage had been done.)
4). Direct the new Rove loyalists in the U.S. Attorney offices to employ their powers to assist Republican voter-suppression activities with the aim of disfranchising African-American and other Democratic voters through specious "voter fraud" cases.
Gonzales owes his entire legal career to George W. Bush. In his confirmation hearing he promised to cast off his role as Bush's consigliere when he became head of Justice Department. This promise has been proven hollow.
It is time for Chairman Patrick Leahy of the Senate Judiciary Committee to take the gloves off.
The "Bushies," (as they like to call themselves), have shown they are geniuses at covering their tracks, destroying incriminating evidence, disavowing close ties with identified perps, and having fits of selective amnesia. Even when there is overwhelming evidence of fraud, false statements, and stealing they have been largely successful in stonewalling Congress.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is given a free ride to cover up the fact that the Department of Justice under his leadership became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party.
Dennis Kucinich is on the right track by bringing forth articles of impeachment against Dick Cheney, but Democratic Party leaders are not backing him. The milquetoasts in the leadership are too scared of the political risks in addressing the Constitutional crisis that the Bush-Cheney team has dropped in their laps.
The political effects of playing nice with Bush and his cronies are threefold:
1). It demoralizes the Democrats' base that was instrumental in putting the Congress in the hands of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid;
2). It emboldens the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans to stonewall, and energizes their supporters by showing they have the guts to stand and fight; and
3). It shifts the focus from what the Bush regime has wrought these past six years -- a ghastly record the GOP wants swept under the rug -- and gets people thinking about the elections of 2008, instead of the malfeasance we should be attacking right now.
Meanwhile, Bush seems to be following a script taken from 1968, that of President Lyndon B. Johnson: kick the disastrous, unpopular war to the next administration to deal with.
The Democrats can regain their momentum only by getting tough on Iraq and aggressively investigating the pervasive corruption of the Bush Administration. If witnesses duck subpoenas, the committee chairs must slap contempt of Congress charges on them and demand the convening grand juries.
The House Judiciary Committee should immediately draw up articles of impeachment against Alberto Gonzales; we've listened to his lies long enough. Gonzales is the low hanging fruit for the Democrats. Gonzales should be impeached for lying to Congress and implementing Karl Rove's partisan project at the Justice Department. Only a full on Constitutional showdown this summer can begin to heal the wounds George Bush has inflicted on our republic.