July 30, 2007
Alberto Gonzales AgonistesBy Clarice Feldman
Democrats are playing political games with national security and mongering phony scandal. It amounts to a program of harassment of the Bush Administration's efforts to defend us against attack by uncovering terror plots using intelligence agencies.
It has been nothing short of a miracle that we have been spared another attack after 9/11; this has occurred through the Administration's use of various techniques almost all of which were leaked to the press. National security secrets were disclosed with no punishment to the leakers or publishers at all.
I'm talking about leaks of real national security significance -- the terrorist surveillance program and the operation of the "Swift" consortium to track and block terrorist financing, for example -- not the revelation of the identity of a non-covert CIA employee. Through it all, the President has labored to protect us from our enemies. And he has done so despite the media and Democrat efforts to make each and every useful program ineffective, by pinched readings of the law and selective damaging disclosures.
Now, the very Democrats who fought the programs and demanded a narrow reading of the law governing them are refusing to make the changes necessary to allow the programs to utilize our technological advantage in this sphere of an unconventional war. As the Wall Street Journal notes:
But the very Senators who are in a position to fashion the necessary legal changes to make the surveillance programs work better are the same Senators who have been trying to force the Administration to publicly reveal the very last bit of the program which has not yet been leaked. They have been unsuccessful at it, and have used the straw horse issue of the firing of some US attorneys as a means of forcing the Attorney General to publicly divulge the information.
And since that has proved unsuccessful, they accused him of committing perjury when he explained what he could publicly about it. He's been vindicated, but the media and Democrats are doing their best not to mention it.
It's beyond serious dispute that, as Executive Branch appointments, the President can fire any US attorney he wishes to for any reason. Certainly it would be inappropriate if there were evidence-which despite countless hearings there is not-that the action was designed to interfere with a legitimate legal proceeding or inquiry. But the Democrats have failed to come close to establishing that there was a single thing inappropriate in these firings. That hasn't stopped Senate Judiciary Committee's Leahy and Schumer from harassing the Attorney General and his staff and, worse, suggesting that he lied to the Committee.
Once again, as in the Libby case, the principle players include Senator Charles Schumer and former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey, two dramatis personae who regularly eat the scenery on the set. And once again the story is more glitter than gold.
I described the incident which has so obsessed Senator Schumer some time ago:
We know now a few more details, most particularly that before seeking an audience with Ashcroft, Gonzales had met with Congressional leaders of both parties, the majority of whom supported continuing the intelligence activity which Comey had decided in the most dramatic and unhelpful way to suspend because of some still undisclosed problem. Whatever the problem was, it was resolved within days of the President's taking over and authorizing its continuance sans the imprimatur of the Department of Justice then under Comey's temporary control. That the problem was resolved so quickly suggests that the drama queen means of Comey's dealing with it were utterly unnecessary.
Speaker Pelosi, in fact, has not disputed Gonzales' report that the majority of the Congressional leaders in attendance did support continuing the program despite Comey's objections-the fact that Gonzales wanted to convey to the sick Ashcroft.
The Gonzales-Schumer exchange on the subject of the Comey objections was, as Tom Maguire noted, heavily caveatted, as it must be to protect national security:
Was the race to the bedside to continue a program Congressional leaders decided was significant and the Office of Legal Counsel of the DoJ had endorsed for 2½ years prior to a change in lawyers somehow untoward? When the issue first arose, Tom Maguire offered up an analogy that drives home the preposterous nature of Comey's behavior and the perfectly reasonable behavior of Gonzales:
Schumer has exploited this non-story so much that he surely is eligible for a milk producer subsidy. First he suggested there was something improper about continuing the program after one new lawyer in the Department perceived a problem that no one else had seen for 2½ years and one the Congressional leadership did not find persuasive enough to deprive us of its benefit. But then he suggested some ghoulish plot over the hospital bed to twist the arm of an ailing Attorney General . And now he claims the heavily caveatted testimony was deliberate perjury which required the appointment of another special prosecutor.
He ignores that the testimony as I've shown was carefully and admittedly circumscribed for good reason, that Senator Leahy of this Committee declined an opportunity to get more detail in an executive session (not public).Leahy, in effect, was trying to force Gonzales to blow what is probably the last still secret aspect of the surveillance program and when he didn't succeed , he and Schumer hint at perjury. And the press, twisting the words of FBI Director Mueller piled on. As NRO observes correctly:
Because this outrageous behavior is so clearly turning off the voters, I'm loathe to give these bullies a hint-but the truth is, if the Committee really wants to know more about this insignificant DoJ dispute it can hold an executive session, or it can publicly call former Attorney General Ashcroft, Former Deputy Attorney General Comey, FBI Director Mueller and Congresswoman Pelosi to testify.
Some Democrats and their media allies long to re-live the glory days of Watergate, when the Democrats had a President in office who was engaged in wrongdoing. They managed to bring him down and cut off funding for an unpopular war back then.
Or they can move on and concede what we all know-for all the noise generated by manipulating a willing-to-be-gulled media, there is no pony in there.
Clarice Feldman is an attorney in Washington, DC and a frequent contributor to American Thinker.