Passive Voice And Flaming Pants
So let me see if I have this straight: Dubya's mendacious munchkin, AG-Squared, is embroiled in at least two major scandals, and his chief of staff has just resigned. He promptly calls a press conference to… take full responsibility for mishandling something that he insists wasn't improper anyway?
And just how contrite is the wee fiery-pantsed one? AP offers up this masterpiece of passive voice, more excessively qualified than Al Gore, DMV Clerk:
Obviously I am concerned about the fact that information — incomplete information was communicated or may have been communicated to the Congress. I believe very strongly in our obligation to ensure that when we provide information to the Congress, it is accurate and it is complete. And I am very dismayed that that may not have occurred here.
That's not even "Mistakes were made" – it's more like "Mistakes may have been made. Maybe. Possibly. I dunno." Gonzales is presumably referring to his deputy's December testimony (under oath) that neither the White House nor politics had anything to do with the massacre. But the massacre itself is totally cool: "I stand by the decision, and I think it was the right decision." Even if he didn't know anything about it:
As we can all imagine, in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of the Department of Justice, nor am I aware of all decisions.
Way to assume responsibility there, Gonzo.
Which begs The Libby Question: If there was no underlying crime, why lie? Is it really worth committing perjury (or making your deputy commit perjury on your behalf) just to save your boss from political embarrassment? And why evade responsibility at the same time you're supposedly taking it?
Speaking of evading responsibility…
Last October, President Bush spoke with Mr. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday….
The president did not call for the removal of any specific United States attorneys, Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, said Monday. She said she had “no indication” that the president had been personally aware that a process was already under way to identify prosecutors who would be fired.
But Ms. Perino disclosed that White House officials had consulted with the Justice Department in preparing the list of United States attorneys who would be removed.
Within a few weeks of the president’s comments to the attorney general, the Justice Department forced out seven prosecutors.
Previously, the White House had said that Mr. Bush’s aides approved the list of prosecutors only after it was compiled.
But, at the same time that the White House is trying to cover up their involvement…
“We continue to believe that the decision to remove and replace U.S. attorneys who serve at the pleasure of the president was perfectly appropriate and within our discretion,” Ms. Perino said.
So if the firings aren't fishy, shouldn't The Deciderer be puffing out his chest and telling us what hard work it is to make all those hard decisions? Again, if there's no crime, why the coverup? Habit?
This all started with Harriet "Number One Fan" Miers suggesting to Gonzo's recently ex-chief of staff Sampson that it would be brilliant and kicky to just whack all the US Attorneys to
reign ring in Bush's second term, and Sampson (with a little help from Rove) bargaining her down from 93 to 8. Unfortunately:
The [memos and e-mails Sampson turned over to Congress] did not provide a clear motive for the firings. Some suggested that department officials were dissatisfied with specific prosecutors, but none cited aggressive public corruption inquiries or failure to pursue voter fraud cases as an explicit reason to remove them.
But "We need to get rid of Lam before she takes down Foggo" is probably not the sort of communication that you want to have on record anywhere.
What I personally believe went down is that Dubya told Harriet and Gonzo "Get rid of any Attorneys who aren't playing ball, but keep me out of it. And if you can find a way to rid me of this meddlesome Fitz…" I think the "Let's fire everybody!" opening move was a smokescreen, for the purpose of making the eight firings look like a show of restraint. And Gonzo's claim to not know what was going on is laughable. No-one fires eight US Attorneys without checking with the boss man.