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Author Topic: Reviews of Gonzales Testimony Are In
sndrake
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The "reviews" are pouring in regarding the testimony of Alberto Gonzales yesterday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The are not good.

How bad?

Here's the lead-in from Byron York, White House correspondent for the National Review:

Alberto Gonzalesís Disastrous Day

quote:
Judging by his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, there are three questions about the U.S. attorneys mess that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wants answered: What did I know? When did I know it? And why did I fire those U.S. attorneys?
Goldberg: Emotional Vampirism

As the day dragged on, it became clear ó painfully clear to anyone who supports Gonzales ó that the attorney general didnít know the answers. Much of the time, he explained, he didnít really know much at all ó he was just doing what his senior staff recommended he do.

I also found this interesting. It's mentioned in several accounts, but this one is from Slate:

quote:
One of the finest moments comes when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., busts out a big, big chart. Which happens after almost everyone has gone home. The chart compares the Clinton protocol for appropriate contacts between the White House and the DoJ on pending criminal cases with the Bush protocol. According to Whitehouse, the Clinton protocol authorized just four folks at the White House to chat with three folks at Justice. The chart had four boxes talking to three boxes. Out comes the Bush protocol, and now 417 different people at the White House have contacts about pending criminal cases with 30-some people at Justice. You can just see zillions of small boxes nattering back and forth. It seems that just about everyone in the White House, including the guys in the mailroom, had a vote on ongoing criminal matters.


Considering the times, I could understand an increase in the communication between DoJ and the White House, but this seems beyond all reason. It would be good to know what the protocols were for other administrations. My personal guess is that the Republican administrations (except for maybe under John Mitchell during Nixon's administration) restricted communications as well.

Anyone else watch any of the news coverage? Obviously, I didn't watch the hearing live, but I've been trying to follow the coverage.

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Morbo
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Thanks for linking to the slate article. I liked it. The most shocking thing to me was the contrast between the Clinton and Bush administrations' approaches to initiating contact between the WH and DoJ on specific criminal cases.

The lack of accountability is also astounding. The consensus type of decision-making has clear advantages--to the group avoiding accountability, as I highlighted below in an interesting interview with a career DoJ attorney, who recently retired after serving there since 1971. Of course, that type of blame-shifting lack of accountability is certainly not unique to the Bush administration, but it has become a trademark of it (the Iraq war, Katrina, etc.)

From the Slate article linked:
quote:
The other unfortunate trope of the morning is the attorney general's incessant invocation of the "consensus judgment of the senior leadership" and the "collective concerns of the senior leadership" as the basis for all these U.S. attorney firings. Every time he's asked who made the ultimate decision here, Gonzales trots back to the fuzzy gray oracle of "senior leadership." That fits almost perfectly with Kyle Sampson's repeated claim last month that he never made a decision; he was merely the "aggregator" of everyone else's recommendations and say-sos. How gloriously mechanical: The "consensus judgments of the senior leadership" are fed to the "aggregator," who in turn passes them along to the AG who, as he claims, made a final decision without reviewing any criteria for the firing or any written document. It seems that at no point in this "process" or "project" did any human brain fire an actual neuron that triggered the message to terminate an actual U.S. attorney. Sen. Dianne Feinstein picks up on this theme toward the end of the day when she notes, "We still don't know who selected the individuals on that list. Somebody had to. A human being had to."
quote:
But the process of agency functioning, however, became dramatically different almost immediately after Gonzales arrived. No longer was emphasis placed on accomplishing something with the highest-quality product in a timely fashion; rather, it became a matter of making sure that a "consensus" was achieved, regardless of how long that might take and with little or no concern that quality would suffer in such a "lowest common denominator" environment. And heaven help anyone, career or noncareer employee, if that "consensus" did not include whatever someone in the White House might think about something, be it large, small or medium-sized.

In short, the culture markedly shifted to one in which avoiding any possibility of disagreement anywhere was the overriding concern, as if "consensus" were an end unto itself. Undergirding this, what's more, was the sad fact that so many political appointees in 2005 and 2006 were so obviously thinking not much further than their next (i.e., higher-level) position, in some place where they could "max out" by the end of Bush's second term.
[snip]
Q: Are there any possible benefits to this "decision-making by consensus" approach?

A: Yes, but they accrue only to the participants in the process.
Indeed, by operating in this way, they manage to avoid any singular responsibility for the result, or any part of it, which is another way of saying that they see themselves as running no risk of blame if anyone beyond the group has any problem with what they've done at any point.

After all, it was "the group" that did it (whatever that might be), and they achieved presumptively benign "consensus" (at all costs) before moving forward.

http://www.law.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/Preview&c=LawArticle&cid=1176455062969
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Jon Boy
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quote:
In short, the culture markedly shifted to one in which avoiding any possibility of disagreement anywhere was the overriding concern, as if "consensus" were an end unto itself.
Oh, geez. I worked for a company like that once. It was absolutely horrible.
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Morbo
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I wonder how much of that culture of consensus is due to Bush and/or Gonzales leadership as opposed to the well-known lame-duck problems of the second half of a presidential term? The lame-duck issue is even worse in the second half of a second term. This is explored in the law.com interview.
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Jutsa Notha Name
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I think we've all worked there, Jon Boy.

What I found interesting about the testimony is that Gonzales was grilled from both sides of the aisle. Hearing some of the tougher questions made me smile, because that kind of demand of ethics, responsibility, and accountability are exactly what is needed, and I sincerely feel Gonzalez is sorely lacking.

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Samprimary
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The hearing was an

absolute

freaking

disaster for The Gonz.

It was hideous straight down to the tasteless Sheehan groupies singing "Na na naa na, na na naaaa na, hey hey now, goooo-ood byeee"

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Samprimary
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Extra summarized version:

quote:
Senate Oversight Committee grills Gonzalez primarily over attorney firings, Gonzalez responds with different flavors of "I don't recall" or "I'm not aware" for four hours, no justification given for the eight firings, Spector calls for Gonzalez's resignation.
A "Times he said" chart from SA

quote:
I do not recall: 49
I don't know: 15
I am not aware of: 6
I have no recollection of: 4
I do not remember: 3
I canít speak to: 2
I have no memory of: 2
I do not think: 2
I don't believe: 2
I do not understand: 2
I donít have the answer to that: 2
Not to my knowledge: 2
Iíd have no way of knowing: 1

A comment from the National Review which is emphatically NOT part of 'teh liberal medias'

quote:
It has been a disastrous morning for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The major problem with his testimony is that Gonzales maintains, in essence, that he doesnít know why he fired at least some of the eight dismissed U.S. attorneys. When, under questioning by Republican Sen. Sam Brownback, Gonzales listed the reasons for each firing, it was clear that in a number of cases, he had reconstructed the reason for the dismissal after the fact. He didnít know why he fired them at the time, other than the action was recommended by senior Justice Department staff.

Later, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham returned to the subject. ďMr. Attorney General, most of this is a stretch,Ē Graham told Gonzales. ďI think most of them [the U.S. attorneys] had personality disagreements with the White House, and you made up reasons to fire them.Ē Gonzales disagreed but had nothing to support his position. Throughout the morning, Gonzales insisted that he is the man in charge of the Justice Department, and accepted responsibility for the firings, but his testimony suggests he had little idea what was going on.

They are scared to death of perjury so they are maintaining that they know nothing. Expect this tactic to grow.

I will celebrate, I think. There is no love lost on Gonzales.

[ April 21, 2007, 08:25 AM: Message edited by: Samprimary ]

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Dan_raven
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Most shocking thought of the whole mess, "Gosh I miss good old Ashcroft. Sure, he was a repressed anti-dancing, overly religious (and not my religion) conservative, but at least he had morals and codes that went beyond loyalty to the President."

Loyalty is a Virtue.

So is Competence.

While Loyalty does not breed Competence,
Competence should breed loyalty.

And Incompetence definitely leads to Dis-Loyalty.

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lem
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quote:
The hearing was an

absolute

freaking

disaster for The Gonz.

But it was fantastic for John Stewart. Anyone else see his montage of Alberto's testimony? I have not laughed that hard for a long time.
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Morbo
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FYI: C-span is showing the testimony tomorrow, Sunday, at 1030 am EDT.
I downloaded the Daily Show piece, lem. It's very funny.
Download it at
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/04/20/daily-show-alberto-i-do-not-recall-gonzales/

My favorite bit was after showing a dozen "I don't recalls" from the AG, they show him saying,"I firmly believe nothing improper occured." Then Stewert says:
quote:
There you have it... Alberto Gonzales doesn't know what happened. But he assures you what he doesn't remember . . .was handled properly.
Then he looks like a complete lying idiot in a back and forth with Leahy:

AG:Senator, I don't think--I don't know that the decision was made at that meeting. [The famous Nov. 27 meeting]
Sen. Leahy: Well, how can you be sure you made the decision?
AG: [peeved] Senator, I recall making the decision [garbled word] I recall making the decision.
Sen. Leahy:When??
AG: Sir, I don't recall when the decision was made.
Sen. Leahy:[looks disgusted] Okay. . . ?

WTH? He recalls deciding, but not when? That couldn't make any sense to anyone!!! [Wall Bash]

We've secretly replaced the Attorney General's brain with creamy delicious Jell-o. Let's see if anyone notices!

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aspectre
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I'm rather curious as to who are the members of the "senior Departmen of Justice officials" that Gonzales kept alluding to.
All of the senior appointees and all of the top career professionals have denied involvement in the evaluation process which led to the firings. And all have denied being aware that there even was such an evaluation process.

And no, Gonzales' chief of staff Sampson and WhiteHouse liaison Goodling are not senior on the DoJ hierarchical chart.

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Morbo
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aspectre, it's like the old saying, "success has many fathers but failure is an orphan."

No one wants their fingerprints on this trainwreck.

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aspectre
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Tain't that. I just want the SenateJudiciaryCommittee to pinpoint those persons in on the firing selection process.
That would have been my first question to Gonzales after the AttorneyGeneral claimed that the firings occurred "based on the recommendations of senior DoJ officials" because thus far there is no evidence that such persons even exist.
If those "senior DoJ officials" cannot be located, Gonzales committed perjury.

[ April 21, 2007, 01:44 PM: Message edited by: aspectre ]

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Lyrhawn
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You know, the thing I loved about this testimony, was that Stewart didn't have to say ANYTHING for to be hilarious.

This whole thing is ridiculous. I don't know if Gonzalez should quit for improper handling of the situation, but he certainly should quit or be fired for being a blitering idiot.

Who are all these shadowy 'senior administration official' people? Who is running the Department of Justice? Hell, who is running the WHITE HOUSE? At least when I thought it was Cheney I knew who my enemy was, now I have no clue.

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0Megabyte
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It's the Sith, of course.

And you know how they are with mind tricks.

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