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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

Gonzo Justice

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Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be spending the next fortnight rehearsing in front of a mock panel of questioners for his much-anticipated appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17th. He wants his lies about turning over the Department of Justice to Karl Rove's political hatchet shop to be more satisfying than his extemporaneous remarks of March 13th.

GOP Senators like Arlen Specter and Jeff Sessions prattle as if they are truly concerned with the Republican top cop's false statements, but we know in the end they'll just close ranks behind their fellow partisan as they have done with all of the other abuses of power emanating from this rogue administration, (I won't deign to list them).

When the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress they were happy to rewrite the laws that George W. Bush had broken, such as their passage of the odious "Military Commissions Act," to clear their standard bearer ex post facto of wrongdoing. For Bush, it was like getting charged with a D.U.I. and then having his friends in the legislature change the acceptable blood alcohol level to make it go away.

But alas, the Senate will get nothing out of Gonzo; he'll just say: "I don't recall," or "I have no recollection," or "to the best of my recollection," and so on. His chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, who looks like the lovechild of Karl Rove and George Castanza, told the Judiciary Committee 122 times that he could "not remember." Gonzo's memory is sure to be as selective as Sampson's. It's an old Richard Nixon trick. Nixon was caught on tape giving pointers to an aide about how to stymie a grand jury, "just say you don't remember," he advised.

Gonzales reminds me of Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, the last A.G. to run the D.o.J. as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Republican Party. Mitchell holds the dishonor of being the only Attorney General in U.S. history to go to jail; he served nineteen months. With hope, Gonzo will someday join him in the history books for a similar distinction.

When Gonzo appears before the committee he will lie and parse and dissemble and prevaricate and "not recall" ad nauseum. It's going to take a grand jury to extract any truth out of him, (unless the rats start jumping ship or trip up in their conspiracy of lies).

Those eight U.S. Attorneys were clearly fired for crass political reasons; we don't need Matlock to prove the case. These firings are more serious than garden variety "politics," they were carried out to block the prosecution of Republican crooks, or to plant cronies to "investigate" Democrats, (as was the case against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez). Despite what Senator Jon Kyl and other Bush apologists say, the Senate is under no obligation to abide by "reasonable doubt" evidence required of criminal courts in its censuring of Gonzales.

You might recall that Gonzo is the same guy who argues that the Geneva Conventions are "quaint," and that the U.S. Constitution does not protect the right of habeas corpus. What would you expect from a former Enron lawyer?

Even if Gonzo somehow wriggles out of this tight spot his credibility has been shot to hell. His lying about his role in Rove's political purge of the eight U.S. Attorneys has discredited him. The Senate must determine whether Gonzo in his wounded state can still head the nation's most important body for the administration of justice. The answer is no. Gonzo must go. Either he voluntarily steps down, or he must be impeached.

And if the Congress can't stomach impeaching Gonzales, maybe a grand jury or two could return some indictments on his ass! Obstruction of Justice? Sure! Making False Statements? You Betcha! Perjury? Yep! Conspiracy? Probably. Suborning Perjury? I Wouldn't Doubt It. Contempt of Congress? Absolutely!