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Were They Bypassing Gonzales, Too?

Marty Lederman points to this excerpt from Jack Goldsmith’s book at Slate. Goldsmith explains he only saw Alberto Gonzales disagree with David Addington once–and that Bush ended up siding with Addington.

Addington’s hard-line nonaccommodation stance always prevailed when thelawyers met to discuss legal policy issues in Alberto Gonzales’ office.During these meetings, Gonzales himself would sit quietly in his wingchair, occasionally asking questions but mostly listening as thequerulous Addington did battle with whomever was seeking to "go soft."It was Gonzales’ responsibility to determine what to advise thepresident after the lawyers had kicked the legal policy matters around.But I only knew him to disagree with Addington once, on an issue Icannot discuss, and on that issue the president overruled Gonzales andsided with the Addington position.

Logically, Goldsmith suggests that Addington literally always prevailed in these discussions. In the nine months or so Goldsmith attended these meetings, Gonzales only advised a position Addington didn’t support once. And Addington still won that battle.

This suggests Addington–or more likely Cheney–was able to present his view to Bush directly. Which suggests that, in this case, at least, Gonzales’ purported role as a filter on these legal decisions was illusory.

And boy would I like to know what the subject of disagreement was. Gonzales is a sniveling thug. If he disagreed with Addington on something, it’s got to be something pretty damn bad.

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