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Beast of the Month - June 2007

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com Beast of the Month - June 2007 Alberto
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 14, 2007
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      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist

      Beast of the Month - June 2007
      Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General

      "I yam an anti-Christ... "
      John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the

      "Senator, that I don't recall remembering."
      Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee

      As June begins, the smell of justice is in the air. After all, the
      noteworthy celebrity villain Paris Hilton is finally going to jail
      for her crimes against humanity.

      Okay, maybe Paris isn't the most deserving candidate to stick up
      for, but with all the late-night talk show monologue snickering,
      somebody has to. Granted, the idea of Ms. Hilton's simple life
      turning into a Chained Heat lesbian prison film (perhaps featuring
      Sybil Danning in a cameo) certainly has its appeal, at least as
      a "reality" show or "home" video. But isn't all this focus on bad
      little Paris just making her a convenient scapegoat while the more
      substantive crimes of the Bush Administration continue to go
      unpunished? For example, is Paris a worse scofflaw than Alberto
      Gonzales, the Attorney General and The Konformist Beast of the Month?

      To George W. Bush, a guy who loves giving out pet nicknames,
      Gonzales is referred to a Fredo, a fairly insulting reference to the
      incompetent member of The Godfather Corleone clan. Of course,
      considering Shrub's dismal record, he appears more suited for the
      Fredo name (although he must compete with his brother Neil for the
      title.) Others, most notably the Website Buzzflash.com, have given
      Gonzales the more deserving moniker of Consigliere, in honor of
      Robert Duvall's Tom Hagen in the Puzo-penned, Copolla-directed
      classic. He is, after all, Bush's little fixer of legal problems, a
      position he's held since 1996 when he got Bush off serving jury
      duty. (Shrub made a big show on how he was eager to serve on a jury
      like a "common man" - until he found out it was a drunk-driving
      case, which would require him to reveal his then covered-up history
      of driving smashed. In came Fredo, who argued that, as Governor, he
      may later be asked to pardon in the case, which would put him in
      conflict-of-interest if he sat on the jury.) Personally, we at The
      Konformist like to refer to Gonzales as "Sanjaya" since, whenever he
      opens his mouth, we wonder why he hasn't got his ass booted out of
      the DOJ already.

      But unlike Sanjaya on American Idol, Gonzales is still the Attorney
      General because his miserable performance is precisely what Bush
      wants. For example, in April before the Senate Judiciary Committee,
      Gonzales, in the most embarrassing spectacle in front of the
      esteemed group since Clarence Thomas told Long Dong Silver jokes,
      used some version of "I don't recall" 71 times in testimony. At the
      time, Gonzales seemed dazed and confused, perhaps because
      conventional wisdom was he soon would be out of a job over the
      Attorney Firing Scandal (which prompted his testimony in the first
      place.) Even GOP Senators were publicly urging him to throw in the
      towel. Cut to May, and in front of the House Judiciary Committee,
      Gonzales, though still with a memory loss resembling Guy Pearce in
      Memento, seemed confident, relaxed, even a tad cocky with a smirk on
      his face. What caused the change? More than likely, Bush told him
      he wasn't going to dump him, perhaps because his unconvincing
      obfuscations have successfully hampered the Congressional
      investigations surrounding Bush.

      Unsurprisingly, though the support of Fredo by Bush has apparently
      become even stronger, the evidence of corruption, malfeasance and
      abuse of power by Gonzales has become, incredibly, even greater
      since his April testimony. The biggest bombshell in May: testimony
      from former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey that Gonzales and
      then Bush's Chief of Staff Andrew Card attempted to secretly visit
      then Attorney General John Ashcroft while he laid ill, medicated and
      disoriented in a hospital, in order to reauthorize a secret
      wiretapping program that Comey, then acting AG, refused to sign off
      on as legal. Only by rushing to Ashcroft's hospital with FBI
      Director Robert Mueller was this end-around stopped. As Comey put
      it: "I was very upset. I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed
      an effort to take advantage of a very sick man..."

      This revelation is stunning on three counts. One, it shows that
      Ashcroft, for all his far-right political leanings, scary religious
      fundamentalism and point-man status for ramrodding the PATRIOT Act
      through Congress, was actually a stronger defender of civil
      liberties than Gonzales, which may have had something to do with
      his "resignation" in 2004. (Like Comey, Ashcroft was opposed to the
      warrantless wiretapping program.) Two, it shows that members of the
      Bush Team literally use gangster-type methods to get what they
      want. (No word if Gonzales and Card were going to leave a horse's
      head in Ashcroft's bed to clinch an offer he couldn't refuse.) And
      third, it hints at evidence that the NSA wiretapping program,
      already blatantly illegal with what is known about it, was at one
      point even more contemptuous of the law than what has been reported.

      After the showdown, changes were made in the program that allowed
      Ashcroft to sign off on it. What were these changes? Both the New
      York Times and Washington Post have hinted at the likely answer,
      perhaps because, as has been the case over the Bush years, they have
      the evidence already but have decided to hide it from the public in
      collusion with the political establishment. To its usual credit,
      The World Socialist Web Site was explicit about the logical
      explanation in a May 18 article. The smoking gun appears to be
      Mueller's involvement in the dispute, who, like Ashcroft and Comey,
      considered resigning over the standoff. While Comey and even
      Ashcroft had every reason to take umbrage at the Bush Mob's defiance
      of their legal opinion, why would the FBI Director, no civil
      libertarian, give a rat's ass? The most plausible explanation: this
      was a turf battle, and while Mueller may not care about privacy
      rights, he DID care about protecting his FBI. More explicitly, the
      NSA historically has only been involved in international
      surveillance, while the FBI held domain in domestic spying. It
      seems Occam's Razor would suggest that, at least until the program
      was modified under protest by Ashcroft, Comey and Mueller, the
      warrantless NSA spying program involved communications completely
      within the United States. Of course, since Gonzales is now the man
      in the DOJ signing off on any programs, there is good reason to
      suspect that the secret spying program involves such communications

      Of course, the NSA spying program is merely one of many outrages
      involving the Bush Team where Gonzales is a pivotal person. Among
      his most notorious hits:

      * ATTORNEY FIRING SCANDAL: Eight US Attorneys were dumped from the
      DOJ last December. (One of the eight, David Iglesias, was the
      inspiration for the Tom Cruise character in the film A Few Good Men,
      who egged on Jack Nicholson's classic line, "You can't handle the
      truth!") At least 26 attorneys have been considered for firing
      since 2005, with three others receiving pink slips. Though it's
      customary for mass replacements in attorneys to occur at the start
      of a new administration, widespread mid-term firings are
      unprecedented, with only two in the previous quarter century for
      misconduct. While attorneys are appointments that can be hired and
      fired at will, in this case, it appears the vast majority were fired
      for blatantly partisan purposes. Specifically, four of the eleven
      fired were involved in key target areas for so-called "voter fraud"
      claims, under Karl Rove's cynical plan to use bogus election fraud
      investigations to suppress minority voters. The four were unwilling
      to press charges in the cases, and lost favor in the Bush Team for
      this. Meanwhile, five were involved in high-profile investigations
      of GOP figures, most notably Carol Lam, who nailed Congressman
      Randy "Duke" Cunningham for bribery. An email by Gonazales' chief
      of staff Kyle Sampson revealed that "loyal Bushies" were to replace
      the ousted prosecutors. All told, the scandal reveals a grotesque
      attempt to politicize the DOJ, with strong evidence of both voter
      fraud and obstruction of justice by the Bush gang. Further
      obstruction was done by Gonzales himself, who in a March 13 press
      conference declared about the scandal: "I never saw documents. We
      never had a discussion about where things stood." Ten days later,
      it was revealed he attended an hour-long meeting on November 27
      where he approved a detailed plan for the mass firings. Meanwhile,
      in his testimony before the Senate, he claimed he left the decisions
      on firings to his staff, but internal emails later revealed he
      personally urged the ousting of Ms. Lam. Faced with evidence of
      perjury, even Gonzales has admitted: "incomplete information was
      communicated or may have been communicated to Congress."

      January 2002 memo that argued against the Geneva Convention applying
      to alleged Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters held in detention,
      declaring "a new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva's strict
      limitation on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders some of its
      provisions quaint." This memo led directly to the torture and abuse
      that followed in places such as Camp X-Ray and Abu Ghraib.

      * REJECTION OF HABEAS CORPUS RIGHTS: In January, Gonzales, showing
      flawless logic, stated before the Senate Judiciary Committee: "There
      is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a
      prohibition against taking it away." This drew a stunned response
      from GOP Senator Arlen Specter: "Wait a minute. The Constitution
      says you can't take it away, except in the case of rebellion or
      invasion. Doesn't that mean you have the right of habeas corpus,
      unless there is an invasion or rebellion?" Gonzales didn't budge on
      his opinion. With the shameful passage of the Military Commissions
      Act last year, which allows those labeled "unlawful enemy
      combatants" to be stripped of habeas corpus, his translation of
      Constitutional rights is more than a mere philosophical disagreement.

      * GOVERNMENT SECRECY: Gonzales drafted Executive Order 13233 (issued
      by Bush on November 1, 2001, soon after 9/11) placed limits on
      Freedom of Information Act access to records of former presidents.
      He also fought to keep Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force documents
      secret. In other words, while he's been rapidly invading the
      privacy of the American public, Gonzales has been pushing more
      secrecy for the Bush Mob.

      Based on the above, there's no reason he should still be the
      Attorney General, but it appears, contrary to recent conventional
      wisdom, he's not going anywhere. After all, Bush is standing by
      him, and since Fredo is, above all, a "loyal Bushie" hack, that
      likely won't change any time soon. The only other way Gonzales can
      lose his job is if Congress impeaches him, but the Democrats,
      showing no sign of gonads, aren't up for such a fight (much less
      impeaching Cheney or Bush.) They have threatened a resolution of no-
      confidence, believing that would shame him and Bush into his
      resignation. Apparently they haven't been paying attention the last
      six and a half years.

      Perhaps the only good thing to come out of Gonzales' term as AG: the
      American public has been saved the prospect of Fredo as a Supreme
      Court justice. His name had been floated as a Bush nominee, and
      since he was viewed as a "moderate" Republican, he seemed like a
      candidate who could sail through confirmation without much
      Democratic opposition. Thanks to his miserable record as AG, a
      future Justice Gonzales plan seems doomed. Still, that Gonzales
      could be a leading candidate for a powerful lifetime appointment by
      the Bush Team shouldn't leave Americans feeling to confident about
      the future of justice in the USA.

      In any case, we salute Aberto Gonzales as Beast of the Month.
      Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Al!!!


      Cohn, Marjorie. "The Quaint Mr. Gonzales." Truthout 13 November 2004

      Collins, Michael. "Did Bush Commit Election Fraud?" Scoop 23 April
      2007 <http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0704/S00350.htm>.

      Crawford Greenburg, Jan and de Vogue, Ariane. "Gonzales Contradicts
      His Own Testimony." ABC News 16 April 2007

      Egelko, Bob. "Gonzales Says the Constitution Doesn't Guarantee
      Habeas Corpus." San Francisco Chronicle 24 January 2007

      Eggen,Dan and Goldstein, Amy. "Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove
      Dismissals." Washington Post 14 May 2007.

      Eggen,Dan and Kane, Paul. "Karl Rove Knew About Firings, E-Mails
      Show." Washington Post 16 March 2007.

      Isikoff, Michael. "Gonzales: Did He Help Bush Keep His DUI Quiet?"
      Newsweek 31 January 2005.

      Kay, Joe. "Former Justice Department Official Describes Illegal
      Actions by Bush Administration in Defense of Domestic Spying." World
      Socialist Web Site 17 May 2007

      Kay, Joe. "Former Justice Department Official's Testimony Raises
      Question: How Extensive Is Police State Spying in the US?" World
      Socialist Web Site 18 May 2007

      Kellman, Laurie. "White House Pressed Ashcroft on Wiretaps.
      Associated Press 15 May 2007

      "Married to the Mob, the Story of Alberto G." BuzzFlash 17 May 2007

      Palast, Greg. "Fired Prosecuters: Rove's 'Obstruction of Justice?'"
      GregPalast.com 14 May 2007 <http://www.gregpalast.com/investigative-

      Rich, Frank. "When Will Fredo Get Whacked?" New York Times 25 March

      Scelfo, Julie. "Quite Unprecedented." Newsweek 15 March 2007

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