Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"The Wizard of Is"

Alberto Gonzolez, or at least a spokesperson, has snatched the title of "Wizard of Is" from Bill Clinton's willing hands.
Gonzales Was Told of FBI Violations - washingtonpost.com Annotated
The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI's use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department's inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

[D]epartment spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said that when Gonzales testified, he was speaking "in the context" of reports by the department's inspector general before this year that found no misconduct or specific civil liberties abuses related to the Patriot Act.

Riiiiiiiight. And Gonzalez cannot be proven to have read any of these documents which must have landed on his desk.

So we are left with the choice as to whether Gonzolez is a legal and managerial incompetent or a partisan perjurer. But then, he's a Bush Appointee, there's no reason why he can't be both.

But some might wonder what motive Gonzolez might have had to conceal the truth from Congress.

Marcia Hofmann, a lawyer for the nonpartisan Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, "I think these documents raise some very serious questions about how much the attorney general knew about the FBI's misuse of surveillance powers and when he knew it." A lawsuit by Hofmann's group seeking internal FBI documents about NSLs prompted the release of the reports.

Caroline Fredrickson, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union, said the new documents raise questions about whether Gonzales misled Congress at a moment when lawmakers were poised to renew the Patriot Act and keenly sought assurances that there were no abuses. "It was extremely important," she said of Gonzales's 2005 testimony. "The attorney general said there are no problems with the Patriot Act, and there was no counterevidence at the time."

I suggest that Congress require a higher standard of proof from Administration officials from this point on. If they cannot establish their veracity, Congress should assume they are lying.

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