Earlier this week, the House Judiciary Committee had its turn to query Attorney General Alberto “VO5″ Gonzales about the so-called Attorneygate scandal and other questionable activities at the Justice Department. As expected, Gonzales turned in a feeble performance (to quote a headline in today’s New York Times) that had all the drama and substanceâ€”but none of the whimsyâ€”of a Hogan’s Heroes rerun (with the A.G. naturally assuming the role of Sergeant Schultz). Understandably, many in Congress were frustrated by the lack of answers and accountability. Why they expected to fare better than their counterparts in the Senate at this political Whac-A-Mole game is a mystery. Clearly, Gonzo either knows nothing or has no intention of revealing what he knows.
Indeed, it is difficult to determine which is greater, the Attorney General’s incompetence or his sleaziness. Regardless, like many in the Bush administration who have been elevated to key positions more for their politics and personal connections than for their experience and abilities (e.g., former FEMA director Michael Brown), Gonzales is ill-suited for the job he has been handed. One might suggest that he is in over his head, were his noggin not ensconced so far up his derriÃ¨re that he can see the sunlight glinting off his pearly whites. While it may seem disrespectful to make such a statement, it would seem deserved given the lack of respect that Gonzales has shown for the Constitution, international law, and the legislative branch of government. When integrity and accountability are called for, all the man provides is a song and dance. One can understand why CNN’s Jack Cafferty might refer to the A.G. as “a loser.”
While Congress continues to investigate the warrantless
eavesdropping firing of U.S. attorneys, they should perhaps also seriously consider beginning impeachment proceedings against the Attorney General. In a recent New York Times editorial, Frank Bowman, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, asserted that such action is warranted because “Mr. Gonzalesâ€™s forgetfulness is feigned â€” a calculated ploy to block legitimate Congressional inquiry into questionable decisions made by the Department of Justice, White House officials and, quite possibly, the president himself.” In an earlier op-ed piece in the Boston Globe, Robert Kuttner also argued for impeachment:
THE HOUSE of Representatives should begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Gonzales, the nation’s highest legal officer, has been point man for serial assaults against the rule of law, most recently in the crude attempt to politicize criminal prosecutions. Obstruction of a prosecution is a felony, even when committed by the attorney general.
The firings of US attorneys had multiple political motives, all contrary to longstanding practice. In some cases, Republican politicians and the White House were angry that prosecutors were not going after Democrats with sufficient zeal. In other cases, they wanted the prosecutors to lighten up on Republicans. In still others, exemplary prosecutors were shoved aside to make room for rising Republican politicians being groomed for higher office.
It’s hard to imagine a more direct assault on the impartiality of the law or the professionalism of the criminal justice system. There are several other reasons to remove Gonzales, all involving his cavalier contempt for courts and liberties of citizens, most recently in the FBI’s more than 3,000 cases of illegal snooping on Americans. [full text]
Rather than just seeking explanations that the Attorney General has no intention (or capacity) to provide and then getting miffed about such, Congress should assert the authority granted to them by the Constitution to remove Gonzales from office. Then, they should appoint a special prosecutor to determine precisely what crimes may have been committed by the A.G. and others and hold these rogues accountable for such. It is no longer sufficient to simply hold hearings that are largely for show. Gonzo needs to go!