Gonzales Abandoned, From Within and Without

You don't have to believe me when I tell you, as I have for the past few months, that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has made trying times at the Justice Department measurably worse with his failed leadership and intellectual rigor and fairness. You now can also believe Daniel Metcalfe, a former Justice Department official who began his career there during the Nixon Administration. Metcalfe this week tells the Legal Times' Tony Mauro that Team Gonzales "shattered" the independence of the Justice Department with short-sighted political policies. "It becamse quite clear that under Gonzales, the department placed no more than secondary value on the standards that I and my office had valued so heavily for the preceding 25 years -- accuracy, integrity, responsibility and quality of decision-making being chief among them," Metcalfe told Mauro. Do yourself a favor and read the entire interview. It is a fascinating indictment of the Gonzales tenure and ought to put to rest the straw man argument that the Attorney General's critics are only weak-kneed Democrats out for political blood.

Meanwhile, even as the Attorney General endured a body blow from a well-respected career attorney, he learned this morning from The Wall Street Journal that his deputy, Paul McNulty, is "quietly" looking to leave public service and join a private law firm or corporation. McNulty, too, is heavily implicated in the scandal to fire the U.S. Attorneys-- he's been blamed for, among other things, failing to properly prepare Gonzales for testimony a few months ago on the subject-- and he has long been considered to be a candidate to be another likely "fall guy" for the Attorney General. The fact that he is looking to jump before he is pushed is just another side that the fallout from this controversy is still perhaps closer to the beginning than to the end.

These niggling news items come 24 hours or so before Gonzales is scheduled to undertake the performance of his life, a professional make-or-break appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee that wil either result in his departure from the Justice Department or his resurrection as an effective law enforcement official. They both undercut the Department's carefully choreographed charm offensive designed to give Gonzales a smidge of momentum coming into the hearing. Metcalfe and McNulty, one out and one in, both doing their part to ensure that the beleagured Attorney General stays on the ropes.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 15, 2007; 5:44 PM ET agag
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"Gonzales is scheduled to undertake the performance of his life ... that wil either result in his departure from the Justice Department or his resurrection as an effective law enforcement official."

Perhaps more likely than either of these alternatives, Gonzales will remain at his post and continue to be corrupt and ineffective.

Posted by: skeptonomist | April 16, 2007 10:11 AM

At some point, we need to start talking about the elephant in the room -- that all the manuevering for the past 6 years by this administration (with Karl Rove leading the charge) has been about creating a "permanent Republican majority" by suppressing the vote of ethnic and racial minorities and the poor who tend to vote for Democrats. They have done this by falsely claiming that "voter fraud" is a major problem. All you have to do is look at who kept his job -- Biskupic in Wisconsin -- after bringing phony charges against a career civil servant (I can't wait to read Judge Easterbrook's opinion in that case).

If the media won't connect the dots, I will -- The plan for a permanent Republican majority includes getting 21st Century "poll taxes" passed in the form of voter ID laws, politicizing the U.S. Attorneys so that they prosecute Democrats in election years, like Biskupic did and Iglesias refused to do, and destroying the independence of the Justice Department, not to mention the GSA, which is being investigated for applying the resources of the government to promote Republicans.

This is a course that if allowed to continue, will be the end of democracy in the United States of America.

Posted by: Nellie | April 16, 2007 10:12 AM

Thank you for the kind words, Andrew -- I suppose you could say that in politics (if that's what this is), timing is everything.

Posted by: Dan Metcalfe | April 16, 2007 10:20 AM

Any guesses as to what Metcalfe might have been referring to here (a Bush administration FOIA action in the early Gonzales days as A.G.):

"Second, candor compels me to acknowledge that there in fact was a situation in which, rather than being asked to do something for purposes of a political agenda, I surely was asked to refrain from doing something quite ordinary for a reason that I later learned (and earlier had surmised) was indeed very much a "political" type of agenda. That situation does stand apart in my government experience, but I will refrain from saying anything more about it here, other than that it did occur during the early months of 2005."

Posted by: JP2 | April 16, 2007 10:38 AM

Thanks for the link to the Metcalfe interview. I have long believed these Bush buggers were venal and corrupt -- my wife and I even emigrated to Australia because we despised them so much -- but this fleshes out my suspicions. I shake my head and wonder "Why do these people go into government if they don't believe in government?" You can't run any enterprise -- whether it's a candy story or an entire country -- this badly and not have heavy consequences. May God help the United States, and the rest of the world that's going to be affected, when the price is paid for these monumental stuff-ups.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 16, 2007 11:03 AM

"It is a fascinating indictment of the Gonzales tenure and ought to put to rest the straw man argument that the Attorney General's critics are only weak-kneed Democrats out for political blood."

How is that a straw man argument?

Posted by: | April 16, 2007 01:01 PM

Anon 1:01 PM, that's a straw man because of the "only" qualifier.

In addition to weak-kneed Democrats out for political blood, there are also strong-willed Democrats, independents, and Republicans who respect institutions, who believe the President and his men have crossed lines with the respect to the administration of justice, and the management of the Justice Department, that never should have been crossed. (And ones that never have been crossed since the enactment of our Constitution).

On the flip side there is the die-hard 30% who go along with George W. Bush simply because they think any president who speaks in moral platitudes and cites Jesus as his favorite philosopher must be trustworthy. There's another 00.005% who have benefited tremendously from their close association with this White House and who are reluctant to start a relationship with a new political party. And then there are the people who work inside the administration (a list which seems to include rubberstamp Senators Hatch and Coryn), who have more than just an ordinary personal stake in "muddying the waters" on this issue.

Posted by: JP2 | April 16, 2007 02:01 PM

I understand. I guess it should say, "...the Attorney General's only critics are..."

Posted by: | April 16, 2007 02:15 PM

Anon 2:15 PM, that wouldn't be accurate either.


And this isn't the exception either.

Of course, if a person is playing linguistic games, he or she could create a syllogism along the lines of:

1. "Only Republicans support George W. Bush and Attorney General Gonzales blindly. Arlen Specter, John Warner, and Lindsay Graham (to a lesser extent) do not support George W. Bush and Attorney General Gonzales blindly. Therefore Arlen Specter, John Warner, and Lindsay Graham are no longer Republicans."

2. "If you aren't a Republican then you are a Demcrat".

3. "Since Arlen Specter, John Warner, and Lindsay Graham are no longer Republicans they must be Democrats."

4. "Therefore George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzales are only opposed by Democrats".

Or maybe the person might say:
"I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason."

With the understanding that that might be true in the narrow sense of: "not for just ONE improper reason, but only for SEVERAL improper reasons." In other words, "I didn't screw up for just ONE improper reason, but for MANY improper reasons. Therefore, it would be inaccurate for me to say that I would EVER ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for just ONE improper reason."

See, clever?

For the sake of the nation, let's hope that kind of cleverness is only valued in parts of Texas. And by Texas I mean Texas in the most concrete geographically definable way--not in some purely subjective or metaphorical sense.

Posted by: JP2 | April 16, 2007 02:44 PM

I'm not saying the argument isn't a straw man, just that the statement would be a more accurate description of the faulty argument. That is, it would more clearly demonstrate that the argument is a straw man.

Posted by: | April 16, 2007 02:51 PM

Anon 2:51 PM, point duly noted.

Posted by: JP2 | April 16, 2007 03:15 PM

In posting comments to the various sections
of the Post we are asked to make sure that
such comments are not profane or personal.
It is interesting to note, therefore, the
personal and profane attacks on Americans
disagreeing with the Bush Administration's
flawed policies and inept attempts to govern the greatest Democracy in the world.
If it were up to them we wouldn't be in a
Democracy. We would be living in government by the rich and powerful. They
don't really want Democracy in the true sense of one person/one vote. They want
a country run by their own minions, voters
be damned (remember 2000?). They have come
close to getting their way. It is up to
Democrats to bring their travesties to light and punish those guilty of turning
this country into an obscentity and bully
to most of the people of the rest of the
world. The world's best hope has become the bully of the world. How very sad. At
the same time the people of this country
have been shortchanged by their leaders.
It has become too important to be re-elected, rather than to govern for one's
constituency. Do what is best for this
country, not for the pocketbooks of those
who have far more than they need already.
Do the right thing befoe we forget what the
right thing is!

Posted by: Harold F. Crockett Jr. | April 16, 2007 11:13 PM

Cohen, thanks again for this post, and the link to Metcalfe's interview, which is turning over and over in my mind. You know what this packing of the DOJ with incompetent, wet-behind-the-ears religious hacks reminds me of? The idiots who ran the Coalition Provisional Authority, as described in Rajiv Chandrasekaran's fantastic "Emerald City" book. They didn't have a clue what they were doing, and didn't care to get one, because it was just a game to them where they could get their tickets punched and move on to something else.

Yet these boobs had REAL power, and could spend REAL money -- millions of dollars of OUR money (yours, anyway, since I'm no longer paying taxes into the war machine) -- and affecting REAL peoples' lives. How many other agencies have been packed with cheese-heads this way? FEMA springs to mind right off the bat. It's a pattern!

Taking it one paranoid leap further, though, I smell a rat gnawing at the core of the apple that these small cockroaches were running on the surface of. For every consensus-seeking, blame-avoiding ninny you have coming up with names like "The Healthy Forest Initiative" you have a nefarious expert like Stephen Griles chewing a hole through the regulations. And that means tons of killer chemicals can be dumped into the rivers, or billions stolen via tax breaks or outright fraud. Lots of nitwits underlain by a few Clausewitz.

Are these people ever evil! But you can't keep on doing that forever. Eventually it all falls apart. Those of you unfortunate enough to be in the U.S., including the trivial mid-level appointees who mucked it up, will have your lives worsened because of whatever the fallout will be. But the Bremers and other schemers will be safe in Switzerland, counting their ill-gotten gold and laughing at the wreckage they left behind.

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 17, 2007 01:37 AM

Alberto's also another walking symptom of the BushCo intention on a US/Mexico shotgun wedding. Less and less people care for the members of this administration, or its' appointees, or their erstwhile neo-scam deserters, lackeys, hangers-on, and other playaz hanging around in the corner, all riding the profiteering gravy train. Nobody wants to be left there, standing holding the bag for the long laundry list of failures that can pretty much be attributed to this clown circus, and while Alberto may not be the head clown, he is the one in the big red hat carrying the drum and wearing the oversized shoes. All that's really missing is poodles and flaming hoops, that and a couple of good-sized bricks to block the revolving door for all of these people...

Posted by: Bert | April 17, 2007 03:26 AM

The DOJ thing is further confirmation of the truth of the following observation:
Question: How can you tell that a Bush administration official is lying?
Answer: He's moving his lips.

Lark Over

Posted by: Lark Over | April 17, 2007 08:13 AM

The right wing suppression of democracy wouldn't be happening if the Dem's haven't been going along with activities like redistricting. All the Republicans have been doing is capitalize on any oppotunity to use their absolute power over government institutions and check & balances. 10 years of perverse republican government is still going unchecked by the media and Democrats. Surely these people knew that a parade of unqualfied and incompetent people were being put into positions of great power in the goverment. The Dem's and media have been too quiet on this debacle for years. While the neo-cons grab for powere, the Dem's and media cower!

Posted by: lf | April 17, 2007 08:48 AM

the interesting aspect that isn't being addressed is -- look at how easy it was to utterly subvert the federal agencies of the government with religious zealots and incompetent cronies.

Posted by: linda | April 17, 2007 10:14 AM

Just after the Iraq invasion, Karl Rove was heard remarking that Republicans will enjoy a 1000 year reign of supremacy.

Posted by: Dave | April 17, 2007 11:25 AM

So, what, Dave? Hitler expected the third reich to exist for more than 1000 years also. The shape of modern weaponry isn't allowing to have currently WWIII. It seems that it wouldn't be ever possible to have it after the implementation of nucklear weapons. People with reasons inside and outside the country are trying to get rid of our neo nazis in power by political means. It is not going successful, however, isn't it? Anyhow, Bush would let Gonzales go. Criminals of Bush's type and scale can't afford any loyalty. On the contrary, they need to be very skillful in scapegoats'search and choice. Gonzales is a good choice for the matter, as he doesn't have either family's or own fortune.

Posted by: aepelbaum | April 17, 2007 04:34 PM

I would like to have a link to a reliable historical version of what happened to the judiciary in Germany -- from the time that the Nazis became an important political power until August 1939. I'll bet there are clear parallels of "politics first, old antiquated ethics last"

Posted by: trueblue | April 17, 2007 06:15 PM


Here's a decent source . . .


Thomas Childers work at the University of Pennsylvania is also worth checking out. Childers is a history professor, not a legal analyst, but he does an exceptional job at analyzing the electioneering techniques--and the parliamentary gambits that the National Socialists used to consolidate power and create a system where the rule was dictated by one man, rather than through an open deliberative process.

While it is obviously a tremendous stretch to say that Bush Republicanism is the same as National Socialism in 1930s Germany in terms of the application of its power. I am having a harder and harder time seeing any difference at a philosophical level in terms of the use of raw power. When a spokeswoman--and the spokesman for the White House state that "Congress has no oversight authority over the White House period" they are advancing a notion of Executive power that is unprecedented in our history--at least in the periods after the enactment of our Constitution. I don't think it can be overstated how truly perverted these ideas are.

If the Executive operates independent any oversight--except for in those limited circumstances that it deems permissible, than where is the transparency? I can see grounds for arguing this line in limited cases, but not in absolute terms. Never.

Posted by: JP2 | April 17, 2007 09:00 PM


Posted by: RAS1142 | April 18, 2007 06:49 AM

Loyalty to The Leader! All good Americans support our Leader and will report suspicious activities of our enemies. We are the greatest country in the world and we are surrounded by packs of weaklings who are afraid of our strength and righteousness of purpose! Where have we heard this insanity before? What did the world have to do to stop this madness? When they come for you there will be no one left to protest. Impeach Bush now! Start with abuse of signing statements and then root out all of the kool-aid drinking evangelical subverters.

Posted by: thebob.bob | April 18, 2007 12:22 PM

I agree with Nellie's comment. Since Rove is behind all of this, nothing will change until he, too, is thrown overboard in an effort to save the Great Decider himself. If that happens, there will only be two people left in the rowboat, Bush and Cheney. Then who will push out whom?

Posted by: K.W. Eli | April 18, 2007 12:45 PM

There are some things that all or a majority of Fascist regimes (Spain, Germany and Italy) had in common:
1. Use of religious/ethnic intolerance and Christianity, to get power (Spain & Germany);
2. Need for foreign "enemies" and constant warfare or threat of war(Germany & Italy);
3. Dictatorship, in spite of the forms of representative democracy (all three);
4. The Big Lie (Germany & Italy);
5. Control and fixing of the Courts (all three);
6. Support by, and of, Big Business--supressing unions (all three);
7. Torture by the State Police(all three);
8. Secrecy (all three); and
9. Failure to abide by the rules of War (Italy & Germany).

"Water-boarding"--which VP Cheyney endorsed--was a favorite Gestapo technique.

If you think "It Couldn't Happen Here", imagine where the US Constitution would now be, if Cong. Mark Foley had not been caught, sending "dirty e-mails."

Posted by: John Fenner | April 18, 2007 02:19 PM

Bukko: I need you to understand that "cheese-heads" is a complimentary phrase here in Northeastern Wisconsin, and in no way represents support for the current administration.

Some of us may wear wedges of imitation cheese on our heads during what we call football season, but it doesn't mean our faculties don't work well on other issues. In our state, we have a Democratic governor, two Democratic U.S.senators, and an increasing number of Democratic members in the House of Representatives. In fact, if we secceded from the United States, we might elect Russ Feingold our president!

Posted by: pacman | April 18, 2007 03:34 PM

Cohen is like the man who throws dirty gas on a fire: yes it will make the flames jump higher, but its good for nothing else. Neo communist propagandists like Cohen use their position in national media to pound their agenda into the pop culture. Advertising works -- and that's all he does. He and his filthy cohorts hasten the day when a counter report will end his terrorist jihad on mainstream Americans. At three times the speed of sound...he'll never hear the report.

Posted by: tradam | April 19, 2007 10:00 AM

Sounds like a threat from the fringe. In light of V. Tech,....

Posted by: Dave | April 19, 2007 10:30 AM

I don't get it.
Janet Reno fired 93 A/G's for Clinton in 1993.
What did Gonzalez do wrong?

Posted by: Stephen | April 19, 2007 12:43 PM

Obstruction of justice.

Posted by: Dave | April 20, 2007 12:41 AM

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Posted by: cdgjdfghdfgh | April 21, 2007 02:38 AM

Stephen,the main thing Gongalez did was become republican.He has broken no laws at all.Thats why the democrats that keep attacking and can't criminally have him removed.They have created a scandal where there isn't one and these idiot liberals believe anything they are told by their democratic leaders which amount to no more than a bunch of communist.In fact,go to "The American Communist Party" and you will see they are thrilled that the dems won the house and senate because for one thing,it shows there is a majority of
Americans that don't bother to think for themselves.They're called democrats that believe every bit of pablum and propaganda the media feeds them.Their leaders give our latest missle technology to our enemies,Give 10 billion dollars to build nuclear plants but they are more interested in who gave him his last BJ.They will be easy to control when the communist finally do take over.Like I said,look up the party web-site and go to the link:"American Communist Partys Plan for America"They are literally celebrating the dems winning the house ad senate.It openly speaks of the Tactics for infiltration.Criticize,criticize,criticize,attack everything the elected government does,release mis'information and lie constantly.the people will believe what they are told.
Also political correctness is a favorite tool of communism.Don't take my word for it.Its their words not mine.And their website.They openly speak of their democrat comrades while these so called progressive liberals make it possible for them to pull off the coup of the millineum.
If Gonzales broke a law then damn it,prosecute him and get on with it.If the war in Iraq is illegal,and the president
showed different information then prosecute it in a court of law and put this to rest.Don't you democrats have enough sense to know if that had really happened,Bush would have been out of office a long time ago.And probably would have been in jail.Even Bush couldn't pull off getting this country without being prosecuted.At least bring the troops home.
The democratic congress has the power to end this war tomorrow.They won't because they know if they bring the troops home before this is over the terrorists are coming right along with them.They want as much political gain out of this as possible and they don't give a damn how many American kids get killed for the greater cause.Read the communist web-site.Thats where your Harry Reid,Nancy Pelosi and all the rest of these anti American types are coming from.Its just amazing that they are able to persuade so many Americans to side with them out of shear ignorance and willingness to accept anything these people say as fact.They don't care about the truth,they just want to be right.

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