Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dems smell blood in the water

Found this on the Web, thought it was pretty interesting so here it is..

March 13, 2007
Dems smell blood in the water

Posted 12:32 pm

The WaPo noted this morning that “administration officials say they are braced for a new round of criticism today from lawmakers who may feel misled by recent testimony” from Justice Department officials. Since those officials appear to have been lying blatantly, it appears that lawmakers have reason to “feel misled.”

As it happens, this has not escaped the Dems’ attention. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) issued this statement this morning.

“The White House and the Attorney General have dodged Congress’s questions and ducked accountability as if they still were dealing with a rubberstamp Congress. They are discovering that those days are gone.

“I am outraged that the Attorney General was less than forthcoming with the Senate while under oath before the Judiciary Committee. It is deeply disturbing that this plan appears to have originated from high-ranking officials at the White House and executed in secret with a complicit Department of Justice.

“This is not how justice is served, nor is it how our system of checks and balances is designed to work. It is an abuse of power committed in secret to steer certain outcomes in our justice system, and then to dust over the tracks. The President of the United States and the Attorney General are responsible for setting the moral standard for this Administration. Apparently this matter does not bother them but it does bother me, and we will summon whoever we need in our hearings to get to the bottom of this.”

Leahy obviously wasn’t the only one. This morning, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) held a press conference on the Hill to express serious concern about the latest revelations They didn’t hold back.Muckraker has the whole transcript, but here are some noteworthy excerpts.

From Schumer:

“Make no mistake about it: This has become as serious as it gets. Just when we thought our faith could not be shaken any further, it has been.

“At the very beginning, I was clear that something didn’t smell right, but I had no idea how high it went. The latest revelations prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there has been unprecedented breach of trust, abuse of power and misuse of the Justice Department. And that is very serious and very important.

“The U.S. attorneys are in their own districts the lead enforcer of the rule of law, without fear or favor.

“When you see the picture, the symbol of the eagle holding the arrows above every Justice Department office throughout the land, it stands for fair, unbiased, nonpolitical justice being rendered.

“And yet that has been called into question by a series of blunders, missteps and abuse of power in the Justice Department.

“This weekend I called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down. Today’s staff resignation does not take heat off the attorney general. In fact, it raises the temperature. Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy.

“Either attorney General Gonzales knew what his chief of staff was doing — that’s a pretty severe indictment — or he didn’t, which means he doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what’s going on in the Justice Department.

“We now have direct evidence that Attorney General Gonzales was carrying out the political wishes of the president in at least some of these firings. A startling amount of information about the White House’s role has emerged in the past few days.

“Attorney General Gonzales’ chief of staff withheld information on the White House’s role in the Justice Department, in terms of who was preparing to testify to Congress. Attorney Gonzales’ chief of staff may well have obstructed justice.”

From Feinstein:

“As I began to look into it, we got a great deal of push back from the attorney general: that I didn’t know my facts, I didn’t know what we were doing, that this was all being done for performance reasons.

“And then, as we got the performance reports, I was told, Well — and the performance reports were all good. I was told, ‘Well, it was done for policy reasons;’ they didn’t follow policy of the main Justice in one way or another.

“And then finally, in an op-ed done by the attorney general in USA Today, the rationale was given, ‘Well, we lost confidence in them.’
“We now know that it is very likely that the amendment to the Patriot Act, which was made in March of 2006, might well have been done to facilitate a wholesale replacement of all or part of U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.

“On Wednesday we will vote on a motion to give cloture to the bill that would return the Patriot Act back to where it was before this all happened. I very much hope that passed.
“We really need to know whether this amendment in March of ‘06 was orchestrated by the White House. Who asked for the change?

“We’ve also learned that there was a target list prepared, that the idea for these firings began some two years ago, that the White House counsel at the time had suggested that all 93 attorneys be replaced. And the dismissals were orchestrated by the chief of staff of the attorney general.

“Now, were these dismissals orchestrated then without the knowledge of the attorney general?

I think that’s a question we have to know.

“Therefore, I believe it’s extraordinarily important to issues subpoenas to Mr. Rove, to Mrs. Miers, as well as to Mr. Sampson and determine where all this really came from, how it was orchestrated, what the real strategy was.”

Both said a special prosecutor for this scandal might be necessary, but the Senate is moving forward with its own investigation first.

Stay tuned.

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