Gonzales Offers No "Pleasure for the President"

If America received a dollar over the past few months every time some White House official said the phrase "U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President" our nation's debt would be gone. The great Jon Stewart even made fun of the phrase last month. So when President George W. Bush this week went back to the phrase, and then tried to defend his indefensible attorney general, it got me thinking: what sort of pleasure could Alberto R. Gonzales possibly be giving the President these days? And, no, this isn't a wind-up to some lame off-color joke.

Surely the President is receiving no pleasure from the fact that the scandal over the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys could have a negative impact on pending and future federal cases brought by the Justice Department. Surely the President is receiving no pleasure from the fact that day by day Republican support for Gonzales diminishes-- on Thursday it was Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who came out against the Attorney General. Surely the President is receiving no pleasure from the fact that every day it seems new damaging information about the scandal finds it way into the public domain. And surely the President is receiving no pleasure from the fact that the Attorney General's lack of leadership at Justice has helped paved the way for other serious questions now being raised about the mixture of law and politics in Washington. Ever heard of the Hatch Act? You might want a crash course.

Another week has come and gone in this story -- and still the only voice of support for Gonzales -- aside from this guy -- is the President's. Not a single lawmaker or Republican official has come forward this week (please let me know if I am wrong) to express support for Gonzales. Indeed, at least a half dozen Republican senators added their names to the already-long list of GOP lawmakers who either want him to go or say they don't know how he can possibly stay. Another few weeks like this and there will be NO Congressional support for Gonzales and that, in turn, will make the President's stubborn loyalty to his friend even more inappropriate.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 27, 2007; 7:34 AM ET agag
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I must have missed something.I could care less about Gonzales firing 8 or,(like Janet Reno did)93.What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?
I mean of course besides being a republican?I am not a Bush fan,nor did I vote for him but I have noticed,the democrats voted for the war and then backed away when it didn't go well saying they got different intel.Bull!Now they have created a scandal where there isn't
one,and the republicans stand idly by and don't call them on this.What kind of half-ass dog and pony show is this?The democrats criticize and attack everything that goes on in the White House.Are they hoping noone will notice they have been in office 5 months and haven't done a damn thing except go on vacation.They don't have any ideas or plans about anything.
Passed a resolution that is worthless and A bill that is loaded with pork the president said he would veto.I don't think we're getting our moneys worth out of these bunch of whiners and quitters.That would make them losers that I believe will lose big in 2008.They can't fool even democrats forever.But,I don't know,Clinton did!

Posted by: Clay2046 | April 27, 2007 05:50 PM

Clay2046, Well, you're talking about two unrelated issues, that's part of the problem.

How many U.S. Attorneys did George W. Bush fire when he first came into office? 92 is the count that I have. How many did George H.W. Bush fire in 1989? 93. And Reagan? Same story. So the Clinton firings were consistent with precedent.

When presidents first come into office they replace the U.S. Attorneys wholesale. This is part of the political spoils system. Although there is a check here too: The replacement attorneys are confirmed by the U.S. Senate--which serves as a vetting process. It helps to keep marginally qualified, and flatly unqualified candidates out of the selection pool.

Politics may play a role in who gets hired, but it has never come into play late in the process to determine whether a person stays or goes. In the over 140 years since the creation of the Department of Justice U.S. Attorneys are generally only removed mid-term for malfeasance or incompetence.

There has never been a case in our history where a president has fired this many attorneys for reasons that clearly have very little to do with those non-political performance standards.

There are actually a number of other things at work here too--including the removal of appointment provisions from the Patriot Act renewal which cut the Senate and the Courts out of the appointment process; resulting in the appointment of U.S. Attorneys by this administration with little to no prosecutorial experience. That's an issue, because these U.S. Attorneys wield a great amount of power. Had these U.S. Attorneys received Senate confirmation, the Bush administration could at least point the finger of blame, but now this one pretty much falls on them. It's saying something that Bush didn't even feel entirely comfortable running these "interim" appointees through a friendly Senate in 2006 to receive confirmation. I believe the U.S. Attorney for Utah was the only one who went through the normal appointment process in 2006.

At least one area which is likely to come into play is obstruction of justice. The White House and the political staff at the DOJ have asserted that these firings were not done with the purpose of interfering with specific cases, but there is circumstantial case that could be made here. The White House hasn't helped its case much either by its stone walling, continually shifting explanations, the disappearance of relevant emails (in reference to White House political staff), the withholding of evidence; and the embarrassing fact that no one at the Department of Justice, which oversaw this process, is able to state who recommended prosecutors for firing (or removal from the to be fired list), and because of that no one seems to know, or recall, why those names were put on the list in the first place. That's problematic.

The Iraq War spending bill is another entirely different beast. As far as the "pork" goes take a look at the previous war supplementals which have gone through. It seems a little bit odd to develop a conscience over this issue at this stage in the game--especially when the "pork" items in this one are about one-tenth what has gone through in previous bills. In fact the alleged "pork" items in the bill would account for roughly a day and a half of Iraq War spending (we're spending a rate of $7 billion a month--the alleged "pork" items that I've seen in this bill amount to a little under $500 million). If you're a fiscal conservative you'd probably be better off asking about the $800 or billion that has been spent so far, with out-year medical and replacement costs pushing the estimated final price tag to about $2 trillion dollars. Like I said though, that's an entirely different beast.

Posted by: JP2 | April 27, 2007 08:47 PM

THE STORY OF PAUL MCNULTY AND HIS "PERFORMANCE-BASED" RATIONALE

The behind the scenes reasons as to why PAUL MCNULTY has to again testify today, and how he went against senior Justice Department attorneys advice, insisting that he could draw on his long Hill contacts with Schumer to "explain" (read: lie and mislead) that the firings were "performance based," rather than political:

"...the initial plan had simply been to deny the existence of improper motives. People thought that should be enough," said a source familiar with the discussions that day. "McNulty argued vigorously the other way. He said DOJ had to give these guys on the Hill an explanation."

In the prep session, which occurred in the Justice Department the afternoon before he testified, McNulty emphasized that he had a longstanding friendship with Schumer and that he could smooth things over with the senior Democrat. Also in the meeting were Department officials Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling, Bill Mercer, Richard Hertling and Michael Elston.

"[McNulty] thought he could explain it was performance-related and Schumer would accept that. He touted his relationship with Schumer, and he said you have to be reasonable with these guys and give them the information," the source said. "No one was willing to second guess McNulty."

At one point, one of the lawyers asked about Cummins's dismissal and how McNulty could explain that using the "performance-related" phrase, the source said. McNulty said he would "just explain the White House had a candidate for the job," the source said.

"That opened up the entire thing," said a source with knowledge of the meeting. "The phrase 'performance-related' is where all this goes wrong."

Instead of accepting those explanations, however, Schumer aggressively challenged McNulty during the hearing over perceived inconsistencies in his testimony and that of Gonzales.

"This is the first we've heard of this," Schumer said incredulously, moments after McNulty revealed that Cummins was fired so Griffin could step in.

McNulty left the hearing believing he'd accomplished his mission of pacifying Schumer, as Sampson reported the next morning. "Paul reports this morning that: He's hearing good reports from the committee," Sampson wrote. "In particular, Sen. Schumer's counsel told him that the issue has basically run its course; that they needed to get a little more information from us (i.e., the closed-door briefing that Paul promised them re the reasons for the resignations), but that will be it."


But AG Gonzalez, who was in South America that day, was furious when he read news stories about McNulty's testimony. "The attorney general is extremely upset with the stories on the US attys this morning," wrote Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman, in an e-mail to Sampson and Tasia Scolinos, the chief spokeswoman for the department.

"He also thought some of the DAG's statements were inaccurate." Scolinos responded to the e-mail that she, too, "didn't think the hearing had gone all that well." Roehrkasse suggested in his e-mail that the department offer a "clearly worded op-ed" and reach out "to [editorial] boards who will write in coming days" to help straighten out the situation.

Gonzalez then wrote an editorial that ran in USA Today in which he tried to reconcile McNulty's testimony with his own and to make clear that McNulty's "performance-related" phrase should not be interpreted to mean a negative or inadequate performance by the attorneys. "To be clear, it was for reasons related to policy, priorities and management - what have been referred to broadly as "performance-related" reasons - that seven U.S. attorneys were asked to resign last December," Gonzalez wrote. But it was too late. The U.S. attorneys who had initially told the administration they would quietly resign began to speak out publicly and defend themselves. "He had to defend his reputation," Kyl said of Charlton. "So did the rest of them."

At Schumer's insistence, McNulty went back to Capitol Hill Feb. 14, to meet privately with the Judiciary Committee and provide more information on each firing. But his carefully crafted responses - trying to give minimal information without disclosing much, left senators on both sides of the aisle either angry or frustrated, and according to those with knowledge of the meeting, only fanned the flames of the growing firestorm. A source close to McNulty said the deputy attorney general believes he has Gonzalez' full confidence....

To sum up, it is PAUL MCNULTY who is the slick, lying bastard-always willing to mislead, to blame someone else, for his unethical and blatently political stances. He is utterly unfit to be the deputy Attorney General (DAG).

Gonzalez, as AG, actually DID have the right to dismiss the US Attorneys, who serve at the pleasure of the president, but his slick DAG thought it was more important to put one over on Congress than to simply tell the truth.

THAT'S why Congress ought to read Miranda warnings to PAUL MCNULTY-and now, Gonzalez is tangled up in the web of lies.

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 27, 2007 09:21 AM

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 27, 2007 09:33 PM

From quashing ongoing investigations to appointing political hacks to act as poll-watchers for the 2008 elections to making long-term Justice employees resign rather than make deals with Big Oil and Big Tobacco, Gonzales deserves to not only step down, but to serve prison time for obstruction of justice for turning the so-called Justice Department into a political toy for Herr Rove. The fake amnesia testimony was pretty transparent to everyone involved, just like 5 million deleted e-mails. Enjoy your life, Gonzo! You have set the Republican Party back 20 years, Albertross!

Posted by: braultrl | April 27, 2007 11:55 PM

JP2, excellent post! I normally don't read posts that extend beyond a paragraph or two (they're usually cut-n-paste jobs, anyway) , but yours is one of the most factually accurate, well-reasoned posts I've seen in these comments. No vitriol, no over-the-top partisanship--just a rational analysis of facts. Thank you.

Posted by: Alan | April 28, 2007 12:28 AM

A cowardly and corrupt president appoints a legion of cowardly and corrupt Republican lickspittles to serve in his administration. It's all starting to unravel and now we see Mr. Mission Accomplished and his accomplices for what they are--losers, draft-dodgers, and incompetents. Nevertheless, the Republicans in Congress continue to back this fool even as they approach a train wreck in November 2008. I say, stay the course, GOP.

Posted by: mikeasr | April 28, 2007 12:30 AM

bless you for calling overdue attention to this overused phrase

Posted by: Chris Fox | April 28, 2007 12:35 AM

After reading through some of the documents I was disappointed to see how
quite at least three of the attorneys had mentioned lack of funding from
congress for their departments causing understaffing and low morale.

There was another article today about a shortage of judges for the caseload of
immigration related felonies, again lack of congressional funding for the last
couple of years. Along with others I've read on congress not funding the
border patrol for increases that were authorized, again affecting morale.

Congress needs to provide the funding for these offices, politics should not
be involved on either side.

I didn't watch the testimony, nor have I read all the files yet, but at least
a couple seem to have valid questions about why cases weren't being
prosecuted on immigrant smuggling and such. When a group of politicians
complaining, that does put pressure on the DOJ, I would think


Not sure about Gonzalez needing to leave myself, I'm starting to have dejavu
of a red dress incident.

Posted by: win | April 28, 2007 12:40 AM

Hey, you have to go negotiate with Congress with the Justice Department that you have, not with the one that you wish you had.

Posted by: oldhonky | April 28, 2007 12:52 AM

Clay2046,
listen to JP2, that history is right on. I would only add that virtually every president except Bush has respected the independence of the DOJ. Without that respect, prosecutors won't feel free to do there jobs in a way that fairly represents the administrations goals. The case of voter fraud versus voter intimidation is a great example. The cry of voter fraud by illegal immigrants is often put forth, but has little if any evidence of support. However, voter intimidation has been a real and documented problem from Florida to Washington State. Federal prosecutors need to have the confidence that they can protect our right to vote in a way that makes sense. Firing these prosecutors sends the message that if you don't run your office within the guidelines of what political figures dictate, then you'll be fired. The fact that we don't have a law against firing these people doesn't mean it's right. It just means that no other administration has been so bad as to question such actions. And I think we've all completely forgotten one of the mandates of the legislative branch is oversee the executive. This is exactly what they are supposed to be doing, keeping the president in line.

Posted by: paul | April 28, 2007 01:24 AM

I am amazed by the number of people who defend Gonzales because he did not break any laws. (neither did the 8 he fired)

He did not break the law, but the handling of this whole issue was a disaster!

It revealed that he is in over his head. He never has run a large organization before and it shows. I watched all of the testimony and you cannot feel that he is either lying or incompetent. When Senator Coburn says he should resign ... you know he has lost all credibility.

Posted by: Sunshine | April 28, 2007 01:29 AM

If, according to Bush, Wolfowitz and Gonzales should not resign then what will the result be if they continue to hold office? It will mean that dishonesty is acceptable if Bush is behind you. What principle is Bush depending on when he makes these decisions? The answer is: NONE. If he doesn`t care about principles then it must be because self-interest is more important to him than ethics. How low can he drag the US of A?

Posted by: Robert James | April 28, 2007 01:29 AM

Clay2046 - what law did he break? We don't know if he did but here are a couple of possibilities: 1. obstruction of justice - by firing (or forcing resignation of) US Attorneys that were investigating potential Republican wrongdoing. 2. perjury - surely at least one of the "I don't recalls" were lies - most probably the one about the meeting he lied about at the press conference (the meeting where he did discuss and approve the firings, contrary to his lie).

Beyond this he set the stage for the Bush administration's torture policy, it's suspension of habeus corpus at Gitmo, and is actively supporting its attempt to eliminate the constitutionally protected separation of church and state (otherwise known as freedon of religion - all religion, not just Christianity).

Finally, is lawbreaking the minimum performance standard in the Bush administration?

Posted by: pd | April 28, 2007 01:54 AM

Clay: I thought it was a BLUE dress. Colorblind, or just senile?

Posted by: thrh | April 28, 2007 02:19 AM

Obstruction of Justice and Perjury are crimes, even if no statute was violated. Just ask Scooter Libby!

Posted by: thrh | April 28, 2007 02:22 AM

win: Colorblind? Red or blue? Also: is it Congress's fault that these morons are in positions of power?

Posted by: thrh | April 28, 2007 02:26 AM

How much is the RNC paying weenies like win and Clay to lie for them?

Posted by: thrh | April 28, 2007 02:28 AM

It's their sop for hiring the [mentally and morally] handicapped.

Posted by: thrh | April 28, 2007 02:29 AM

==What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?==

It's not the Democrats. Republicans have spoken in favor of Gonzales' resignation as well.

He most likely knowingly lied to Congress, a crime.

Further, he most likely interfered in federal corruption investigations by Carol Lam, one of the purged attorneys.

Further, he most likely conspired with key members of his staff and certain folks in the White House to do obstruct justice, a criminal conspiracy.

So, yes, it is a bid deal.

So who did you vote for in the last election, if not for Bush?

Posted by: Dimitry | April 28, 2007 02:32 AM

==What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?==

It's not the Democrats. Republicans have spoken in favor of Gonzales' resignation as well.

He most likely knowingly lied to Congress, a crime.

Further, he most likely interfered in federal corruption investigations by Carol Lam, one of the purged attorneys.

Further, he most likely conspired with key members of his staff and certain folks in the White House to do obstruct justice, a criminal conspiracy.

So, yes, it is a bid deal.

So who did you vote for in the last election, if not for Bush?

Posted by: Dimitry | April 28, 2007 02:33 AM

It's a sad, sad day for America when the best thing that can be said about the Attorney General of the United States is that "he hasn't broken any laws."

My brother is a 17-year old high school student, and he hasn't broken any laws -- I guess that means he's qualified to run the Justice Department?

Posted by: jty | April 28, 2007 03:06 AM

Clay2046's post is very typical of the kinds of arguments we've been hearing from this White House for six years.

First he says that Gonzalez "hasn't broken any laws" (as if that's the most we can expect from a Cabinet member, as jty pointed out), and then deflects the issue by attacking Democrats in Congress. So what if Democrats are, or aren't, doing a good job? What does that have to do with the job that Gonzalez is doing?

I guess the idea is that the best defense is offense -- if you can't defend the White House with any arguments of substance, find someone else to attack and hope nobody notices that one has nothing to do with the other.

And you wonder how things ended up this way in this country.

Posted by: kling | April 28, 2007 03:13 AM

My dog hasn't broken any laws either -- let's make him the new Attorney General!

After all, didn't Caligula appoint his horse to the Roman Senate?

Posted by: Keith R. -- Roanoke, VA | April 28, 2007 03:15 AM

paul wrote: "virtually every president except Bush has respected the independence of the DOJ." There was, of course, a notable exception within the past 35 years. In October of 1973, Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox as the latter was closing in on the Nixon Administration's role in the Watergate break-in and ensuing cover-up. After Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned rather than carry out the order, it was executed by the number three man in the DoJ, none other than Robert Bork. Bork, in case the name rings a bell but you don't remember why, was nominated to the Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan in 1987.
Other than admiration for the depth and breadth of corruption which has so far gone unpunished, I rather expect that Nixon, were he alive today, would take some solace from the knowledge that George W. Bush will relieve him of his legacy as worst president in post-war era.

Posted by: Michael Collins | April 28, 2007 03:39 AM

After all, didn't Caligula appoint his horse to the Roman Senate? SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! E-WAY AVE-HAY ANY-MAY ORSES-HAY IN EXAS-TAY. Please, don,t give him any ideas. Besides, at least Caligula had the common decency to send the whole horse to the Senate - a positively dignified result compared to the collection of posterior halves we normally get.

Posted by: GTexas | April 28, 2007 04:02 AM

the law broken is called obstruction of justice you blockheads...right now, when the DOJ charges anyone, espesially a democrat, you have to assume it is a baseless partisan attack..justices dumb enough to charge a republican are instantly dissmissed

Posted by: woody | April 28, 2007 05:38 AM

The Abramoff revelations are going to give the career prosecuters something to get their teeth into. This week it's J.D. Hayworth and Renzi, both from AZ, who have been searched by FBI.

And the Friday afternoon special, from McClatchy:

A senior Justice Department official has resigned after coming under scrutiny in the Department's expanding investigation of convicted super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, according to a Justice Department official with knowledge of the case.

Making the situation more awkward for the embattled Department, the official, Robert E. Coughlin II, was deputy chief of staff for the criminal division, which is overseeing the Department's probe of Abramoff.

He stepped down effective April 6 as investigators in Coughlin's own division ratcheted up their investigation of lobbyist Kevin Ring, Coughlin's long-time friend and a key associate of Abramoff

Posted by: TexasEllen | April 28, 2007 05:47 AM

Gonzo is a Chihuahua

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 05:50 AM

It is a shame, not only the Decider invaded Iraq against the will of the entire world, He made a mess that has cost thousand of lives, He has spent trillions of dollars unnecesarally, he appointed this dog chihuahua as Attorney General, He wanted to appoint another dog to the Supreme Court to serve his twisted dictatorial desires, He has lied repetedly and consistently, to me He is worst than the worst of dictators, He should be impeached together with his gang and his dogs!!!

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 06:00 AM

You are seem to be saying that Bush's loyalty is merely inappropriate. I am far more curious as to why he is doing this. Is he afraid that a new AG will reveal just how illegal his past activities have been? Is there any truth to argument that he is afraid of emboldening his enemies (other wise known as the American public)?

Posted by: JohnBoy07 | April 28, 2007 06:24 AM

Being a Conservative means never having to explain.
Everthing is right there for you all issues are black and white.
Any decision is always the correct one.
God is on your side
Convert now liberals or burn in Hell
Give praise to the Great Decider

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 06:28 AM

You know what pleasure Bush gets from Gonzales? He's one more guy standing between Bush and doom. Because when Gonzo goes, shoved overboard by his fellow Rethuglicans, Bush will be the next to get the push. And as long as the limpluster (neologism intended) AG is taking the fire, that's less fire directed at Bush. He'll string out the Gonzales twist-in-the-wind as long as he can, to delay the day when the rope will twist for he...

Posted by: Bukko in Australia | April 28, 2007 06:37 AM

I only wonder how much more the obstruction case needs to be "laid-out" before the MSM take interest in reporting it. A great many in our country do not read the papers and they do not know the extent of this corruption. It's pathetic.

Posted by: Rusty | April 28, 2007 06:38 AM

It gives me great pleasure to have Gonzales in place and a sitting target for the daily dung drops on him and the administration. Each day brings new information of the political decisions that were being made regarding prosecutions. Corrupting the application of our laws will undermine the Republican Party. As the daily dung drops go on, more Americans will become aware of this corruption of law enforcement. Hang in there Gonzo.

Posted by: c. perry | April 28, 2007 06:52 AM

A Current Newsweek Magazine Reporter Said This Week That The AIPAC Still Calls The Shots In The United States. ....*I Hope For Their Own Sakes That The Jews Can Take Out The Hofenjuden.* ..-Admiral Boorda

Posted by: hank | April 28, 2007 07:23 AM

If Mr. Gonzales resigns, we will miss him. He is such a nice example of what is wrong with the Bush administration. But there are many others who can readily take this role. They can add notes of personal venality that Mr. Gonzales has not , or not yet, manifested.

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 07:28 AM

If the argument is that this kind of behavior is appropriate for a politically-led administration, then I'm sure there will be no problem or disagreement if a Democratic president elected in 2008 pushes for the same policies? Republicans will be in agreement when a Democratic Attorney General fires selected USAs for not pushing hard enough for "Loyal Dems" and against all those corrupt Red Staters? I'll be glad to hear of it. True bipartisanship returns!

Posted by: Gary Goldberg | April 28, 2007 07:38 AM

Clay2046, I'm late to this discussion, but I still have to say this. You complain that the Democrats are looking for scandal where there is none. The fact is, there is so much scandal that one's head spins when trying to figure out where to start looking. And you complain that the Democrats are treating this administration unfairly, while over the past 5 years, all this administration did was treat anyone who was not one of them with scorn, derision, mockery, and stonewalling. Back atcha, I say. When even one of them comes out and says they're sorry, I might have a tiny bit of sympathy for him/her.

Posted by: castaway | April 28, 2007 08:00 AM

Lets see, you fire all 93 when you take office, because political appointees of another party or president may not be working towards your policy goals. Then, when 8 of your hirees don't work towards your goals it's "criminal" to fire them? Then firing the original 93 should be just as bad.

This whole issue has nothing to do with the 8 US Attorneys and everything to do with the Democrats desire to turn anything into a scandal. Maybe they should try legislating instead of investigating for a few years.

Posted by: Crazy Politico | April 28, 2007 08:38 AM

Always great reading from people like Clay2046. Doesn't like Bush never voted for him. I am trying to locate somebody who did. If you really don't see the problem with unqualified Party hacks bringing bogus prosecutions or Republican senators wanting political prosecutions and having the gaul to call and ask for them then maybe this Clay guy could be shaving the truth a hair about his political neutraity. He probably watches Fox news because of its balanced reporting.

Posted by: bob | April 28, 2007 08:47 AM

JP2...great explanation, although unfortunately it falls on deaf ears when it comes to the Bush defenders. The Bush administration has clearly lowered the bar when it comes to ethical standards or even competence. All you hear from the right now is "well, they didn't break any laws". Of course, we don't really know whether laws have been broken since no one wants to speak up or tell the truth. As for Gonzales, what a shameful performance. He received three days of coaching all for a pretend amnesia defense. Then he gets kudos from the president who claims he has even more confidence in Gonzales. Unbelievable. Jon Stewart made a great analogy during his interview with Bill Moyers Friday night. He compared Gonzo to one of the characters in the movie Goodfellas, who basically made himself look like a pinhead during questioning, and in the end demonstrated loyalty to his boss by not "spilling the beans". That's why Bush praised him. He maintained the secrecy and protected the inner circle without apparently breaking any laws. The shame of it is that everyone knows it was a big disingenuous performance. My, how far our country has fallent he past six years.

Posted by: gwalters | April 28, 2007 08:49 AM

As usual, the rightwing extremists miss the point when trying to discern politics and policy.

The difference between placing U.S. Attorneys in their jobs, and firing those who don't prosecute the politically "right" people, is the difference between jury selection and jury tampering. One is a legitimate tactice, the other a felony.

We have trouble in the country today because the Rovian form of ethics has never understood that distinction.

Posted by: TRT | April 28, 2007 08:57 AM

JohnBoy07
You are getting close. Why does Bush support Gonzales? Why does Gonzales support Bush?

It depends on who has the goods on the other. When you find out who has the goods on Bush all the questions get answered.

Posted by: KEG | April 28, 2007 09:05 AM

I do NOT pretend to know ANYthing about this stuff. I am way out of my league here. All that I know is this. The typical American mom or dad or taxpayer or citizen or even high school student operates daily on the assumption that his government has the desire to work. S/he generally believes that whatever level of government S/he needs to help him/her with a problem that is appropriate for government to solve will be there in a genuine fashion when that need arises.

Most Americans are too caught up in raising kids, paying the VISA bill and getting through the workday to fall head over heels in confusion over how our government works. They simply assume that all the beaurucrats, political appointees and contractors that make government work on the local, state and federal levels are "stand up" kind of people. They must believe that because there is no other option if government is going to work. To my mind, government is a lot like the stock market, it does not work if there is any doubt in anyone's mind that shennanigans are going on...capitalism itself is based on trust.

I am not smart enough to know all the legal technicalities here. I do know this however. Americans simply want their government to be there in a genuine and sincere fashion when they need it. When politics of any nature gets involved in the smooth and honorable running of daily government, Americans get confused. This is not how they envision government working. This is how they envision mob bosses jockeying for position under the local Don.

The entire beauty of our federal republic is the way that it operates with checks and balances. That is what separates us from virtually every other government on the planet. It is a sound idea.

Lets go back to it.

Posted by: CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.) | April 28, 2007 09:14 AM

The Attorney General's continued place on the front pages has served its purpose, to mask the activies of Karl Rove's office. So long as we keep Gonzales in the spotlight, Rove is free to operate without hindrance. We need to demand the WP and Congress not lose sight of the treasure trove of corruption that may well exist a few doors down from the Oval Office.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | April 28, 2007 09:18 AM

Hello, just wanted to introduce myself. I'm new on this board and I hope to make new contacts.

I'm 22, from Spain. And my main hobby is to travel all around the world!

Cheers!

Posted by: benbcnnew | April 28, 2007 09:25 AM

re:clare_d_loon .. SPOT ON.. Keep Scraping The B.S Off The Truth! Americans Awakening!

Posted by: hank | April 28, 2007 09:34 AM

The Bush administration has gone to egregious lengths to politicize and corrupt every possible aspect of govt, resulting in unprecendented levels of cynicism and distrust among the citizenry. If the Bush/Rove legacy is allowed to continue, it doesn't bode well for the survival of our democracy. When institutions, such as the DOJ, that are meant to defend fairness, truth, justice, and the rule of law become political tools for a political party, it undermines our system of govt, ultimately causing our democracy to falter. Once that happens, we will be no better than a banana republic.

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 09:43 AM

No crime?

It was when the secret email accounts were revealed that it struck me: this organization shows just the patterns for which RICO was designed.

Posted by: bill | April 28, 2007 09:52 AM

If the current AG does the right thing I would guess that any one of the 8 fired attorneys are more capable of AG's job than Big Al.

Posted by: Stan Barkley | April 28, 2007 09:56 AM

I soppose any corrupt Democrats are smiling. This Justice Department now has no chance of winning a case against them.

Posted by: bill | April 28, 2007 10:06 AM

Thank you JP2. The fake amnesia testimony was transparent, just like 5 million deleted e-mails and the White House visitors records. The Department of Faith-based Justice is just another branch of the White House Black Market mafia. All these little tidbits distract from the big picture which is racketeering, corruption, theft, and assassinations on a Florida-wide scale.

Posted by: FDLE | April 28, 2007 10:09 AM

Most American now understand the lies and deceptions this administration fed to the American public in making a case for going to Iraq. They have witnessed the gross incompetency in managing that conflict. Only now is the manipulation of the legal and administrative systems of this country to align with Republican interests becoming apparent with the election of the new congress. The voter needs to know. It is therefore important that Gonzales stay and Congress investigate. Mr. Gonzales by staying does a great service to this country. With him gone, much of this furor will have subsided without any lessons for future administrations. Much still remains to be discovered.

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | April 28, 2007 10:19 AM

Kiss is the principle: Bush must choose:
Good for America or good for Gonzo.

Posted by: domga | April 28, 2007 10:23 AM

I read Mr. Cohen's comments for the past three days this morning and find the following flaw: Cohen underlines that Gonzales and his lame brained performance last week is a "distraction" to the President and muses that "surely the president is receiving no pleasure from the . . . negative impact on pending and future federal cases."
A "distraction" implies that George Bush is thinking about these issues.Is there anyone who really believes George Bush gives a rat's A-- about "pending and future federal cases?" Bush is in a near unique position of being an extremely lame-duck president who doesn't care what anyone thinks of him or what he has done. He has a strong Republican minority in congress whose members appear (check out the Republican Party solidarity against the democratic Iraq legislation), even though they grumble at time, ready to fall on their swords and risk having the party blown away in 2008, to avoid anything that would embarrass George Bush. Likewise the press; those who are elevated to attendance at Presidential Press Conferences know that the kind of sharp pointed questions Cohen suggests would mean their non-attendance at the next Press Conference and that they would be persona Non Grata. Bush speaks publicly to military audiences who know better than to say anything negative and to pre-selected audiences heavily laden from his base who are thrilled to have the chance to grovel at his feet. So Bush is impeachment proof, immune from meaningful press or public criticism, he's in the cat-bird seat. He can thumb his nose at anyone who opposes him. In 2008, Republicans will pay dearly for their blind support of George Bush, but he doesn't care and most of all he doesn't care a fig about those Republicans who are falling on their sword to avoid embarrassing him. They could save themselves if they understood that embarassment only comes from caring about something in the first place. Bush can't be embarassed because he doesn't care. The only bright light for Americans is that time is on our side. Unless the Republican party stands idly by next spring when Bush declares his intention to cancel the Fall elections, because, don't you know, we are at war and this is no time for politics, we might get out of this alive and with our country intact.
Charles Bland, Buffalo NY
Posted by: Charles Bland, Buffalo New York | April 28, 2007 10:16 AM

Posted by: Charles Bland, Buffalo New York | April 28, 2007 10:27 AM

JP2 --- Thank you.

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 28, 2007 10:29 AM

Everytime I read these right wing nuts in this paper I wonder if there stupid or just stubborn. Don't they realize that when the president from either party oversteps his bounds we start sliding toward an autocratic state? His title is president not king. Yes, he's allowed to fire anybody he likes. But its wrong to fire people b/c they were investigating your friends in congress for wrong doing. When legislators take bribes, hide the truth and are corrupt they should be shown the door or the cell door whichever comes first. Corrupt politicians and political appointees destroy democracy for chump change. This country was founded on ideals that both parties aspire to but noone wins when the president, his political appointees, and members of the congress and the senate use the goevernment as their on personal slush fund. It's indefensible no matter how you look at it.

Posted by: black man in memphis | April 28, 2007 10:30 AM

Gonzales is just the firewall to Rove. If we ever get to see the RNC emails that the Administration was using to try to hide their tracks, this will be clear.

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | April 28, 2007 10:32 AM

Clay2046 echoes talking points from right wing talk radio. JP2's reasoned rebuttal nicely refutes these points using readily available information from the legitimate news media. Clay2046 illustrates for us how Limbaugh, Hannity and others of their ilk make fools out of their listeners every day. But Clay2046 reads the Post, which begs the question: Why is he still persuaded by the patent nonsense from talk radio?

Posted by: Paul1947 | April 28, 2007 10:33 AM

Dear Crazy Politico,

Try to focus here. Absolutely no one is saying that there is any crime in the act of firing the attorneys. The congressional investigations are following an ever increasing trail of evidence that points to 2 possible crimes: obstruction of justice, and/or perjury. As for your suggestion that "maybe they should try legislating instead of investigating for a few years"; by "they" one can only assume from the context of your comments that you are referring to the Democrat members of the Judiciary Committee, but obviously you didn't notice there have been many a Republican member of that Committee asking the touch questions. And just for kicks, you might want to check out the description of the jurisdiction of the various committees of the Senate and House of Representatives. Very easy to find on their websites. But brace yourself, news flash here...they actually have very specific, constitutionally mandated, oversight responsibilities! Wow! Isn't that amazing? Just because that responsibility was ignored in the last 6 years during the Republican controlled congress, doesn't mean it didn't exist. (Which was only temporary amnesia, the republican controlled congress during the Clinton administration didn't have a problem recognizing their oversight role). And finally, as for your belief that Democrats 'turned this into a scandal'...guess what, when the highest officials from the Dept of Justice lie under oath, and the lies themselves then point to circumstantial evidence of obstruction of justice....like it or not, it's scandalous.
Maybe some history will put it into perspective for you. When Nixon ordered the DOJ attorney, who was pursuing charges against his administration to be fired, and his AG, and that AG's number 2 guy, both resigned from office rather than carry out the order...it was scandalous. And, coincidentally, the ensuing congressional investigations, eventually pointed to criminal activity galore, resulting ultimately in an impeachment. So sometimes, every once in a while, some investigation and oversight is in order from our Congress. It's called democracy.

Posted by: mrr | April 28, 2007 10:37 AM

Thank youJP2 for giving clay 2046 a lesson in goverment.clay 2046 like most repulican's was talking about something which he know's nothing about.What Gonzales and Bush did is just one of the thousand's of thing's they have done illegally. Both should be in prison

Posted by: clyde paige | April 28, 2007 10:38 AM

go, gonzo go...and take your long-time friend with you!

Posted by: Terry B. | April 28, 2007 10:42 AM

Interesting note from yesterday*s Friday night document dump by the DOJ: Monica Goodling instructed other DOJ employees to delete docments on Feb. 12, 2007, when it was clear there would be a Congressional investigation. This is a smoking gun.

w-w-w.anonymousliberal.com/2007/04/monica-goodling-instructs-doj-officials.html

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | April 28, 2007 10:46 AM

I wish someone would take on the real scandal about Gonzales and the attorney firings: that these powerful and important jobs are political appointments in the first place. Why should political agendas be part of determining how a U.S. Attorney should do his or her job? I hold no candles for Gonzales, who is proving to be as incompetent as he is dishonest. I would feel a lot better about his critics, however, if they would introduce legislation to change the system and make the 93 U.S. Attorneys career federal lawyers.

Posted by: jimbo43 | April 28, 2007 10:58 AM

Congress must ensure that the criminal activity fostered during the Bush administration does not go unpunished. It should immediately pass legislation eliminating any statute of limitations for crimes against or while in the employ of the Federal Government. Otherwise, GW and Gonzo will while away the time watching the clock run out on justice.

Posted by: TWstroud | April 28, 2007 10:59 AM

I've been puzzling over this whole thing for a while. Reading this, I finally figured out why the President seems so determined to keep AG around.

It must go something like this, in his mind:

"Y'all think I'm incompetent boob, but you're all wrong. You don't know boobhood when you see it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is an incompetent boob."

Posted by: Dutch | April 28, 2007 11:26 AM

Charles Bland -

You nailed it. Bush's confidence in Gonzo was increased by Gonzo's perfromance because Gonzo gave a verbal finger to the Senate, just as Bush has been doing to all of us for years.

Bush could give a rat's ass what anyone thinks about what he is doing. He only pays minimal lip to the media, and lies outrageously when he does, and the goes right back to doing what he wants - Subverting the Constitution for Fun and Profit. Gonzo did a perfect Bush Mini-me, showed up to pay lip service, lied outrageously, and went back to doing what Bush wants.

Reality check: These people will not stop on their own. They will not stop until they are forcibly removed from power.

Posted by: roooth | April 28, 2007 11:26 AM

If you want to know where Gonzales lied and misled, it is easy. He knew the USA in Arkansas was being replaced to make room to Rove's buddy. He was upset with McNulty because McNulty told the truth while Gonzales wanted to hide this fact and pretend it was "performance-related". His USA Today op-ed was designed to obfuscate the issue by bringing a number of things under the umbrella of "performance-related" and thus suggest that even in Arkansas, the replacement of the USA was not political.
Case closed.

Posted by: Haz | April 28, 2007 11:52 AM

Whether or not Gonzales's performance was good depends on what sort of organization he is representing. If the representative of the competent, ethical democratic government of a country with the highest traditions, it was below abysmal. However, if you shift your expectations to the performance expected of a consiglieri to a mob, called in to testify before the forces of justice, it was competent, and rightly would increase the confidence of his bosses. Bush apparently inhabits the latter frame of reference.

Posted by: wrb | April 28, 2007 11:54 AM

Cheney and Bush should be impeached for war crimes. Bush is proof that man evolved from apes.

Posted by: TWQ | April 28, 2007 11:55 AM

I see that the Repukeliscum idiots have checked in. When Clinton, and Reagan, and Bush I and Bush II and Carter assumed office, OF COURSE they fired all the US attorneys. This always happens. What has NEVER happened is that, in the middle of the term, the US attorneys prosecuting cases against the Repukeliscum pols get fired. This is UNPRECEDENTED. This difference has been stated, over and over, but the Repukeliscum morons who repeat it are too stupid to remember.

Posted by: POed Lib | April 28, 2007 11:56 AM

*I soppose any corrupt Democrats are smiling. This Justice Department now has no chance of winning a case against them.*

Another Repukeliscum idiot.

1) "suppose" not "soppose"

2) there are no corrupt democrats

3) Moron, it was the Repukeliscum pols who were being prosecuted who are smiling.

TRY to pay attention, just for a few minutes. WHAT an idiot.

Posted by: POed Lib | April 28, 2007 12:00 PM

POed

I think you have difficulty with irony.

Posted by: bill | April 28, 2007 12:03 PM

Regarding the first commentor's point about the Dems voting for the same war, the Dem's backed the President and his "slam dunk" intelligence that Saddam was stocked with WMD's and ready to fire. It's a "fool me once, shame on you" thing. If the President ran into a theater screaming fire, the Dem's would be wise to listen and help evacuate. If they learned it was a lie and he knew it was a lie and did it anyway, well then, they are not wrong to no longer trust him and chastise him for playing on their own interest in security.

Posted by: Leigh K. | April 28, 2007 12:29 PM

I draw great satisfaction from the obvious desperation of the Busheviks. Pretending to not know what's going on .. yeah, great argument there guys. How comforting to know that the only support Bush has left comes from a bunch of habitual liars.

Posted by: Chris Fox | April 28, 2007 12:43 PM

The jackass intervened to protect actual criminals like Representative Jerry Lewis and the flat-out, good old fashioned crook Renzi. There isn't actually any question about whether or not obstruction of justice took place. Done deal. Anybody that thinks otherwise has been spending way too much time inhaling malathion with Tom Delay, aka "the government".

Posted by: april glaspie | April 28, 2007 12:43 PM

Apparently, Gonzales pleases this President because the latter prizes loyalty above any other trait, even message-discipline. An administration famous for never conceding a mistake has allowed its chief law enforcement official to admit mistakes (not concerning the substantive decision to fire these specific USAs, of course, just the process that led to their dismissal).

I don't think this particular brouhaha is anywhere near over, in light of the accelerating investigations (and increasing press coverage) of several Republican Representatives (Renzi, Doolittle, and, probably Lewis, as well) in several of the districts/jurisdictions where USAs got fired.

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist, but I find it interesting that the Renzi and Doolittle investigations are notably active after Gonzales testified. I wonder if the politicals in Main Justice have had to loosen the reins on the career people in the districts, allowing the latter to move things forward, because the scrutiny of DOJ is too intense right now.

Any thoughts from anyone on this?

Posted by: Alan | April 28, 2007 12:52 PM

OK, so maybe no laws were broken in the attorney firings (if you don't count obstruction of justice). Well, maybe now Congress will have to pass laws that protect the justice department from crass political influence. Thanks to Bush, it may take a new set of laws so our federal prosecutors don't have to look over their shoulders in fear of partisan operatives like Rove.

Posted by: Rob | April 28, 2007 01:10 PM

Uh, no Haz, afraid you've got that ALL wrong about Paul McNulty-it's the other way around, and if you have in fact been reading the Post for the past two days, you will also know that DOJ lawyers have written a letter to Congress to investigate the fact that McNulty's aide Elston, was trying to put these ultra right-wing law student interns to work for DOJ's prized Honors Program-THIS was just changed by DOJ this week, to depoliticize it, AS A RESULT OF the complaint by the line attorneys at DOJ to Congress on this matter, concerning McNulty's further politicizing of the DOJ.

It was MCNULTY to come up with the "performance based" criteria, which was a lie, and then he blamed his lying under oath to Monica Goodling, a 33 year old aide, because, of course! HE couldn't take the heat for that, could he? THAT is why McNulty had to testify AGAIN yesterday behind closed doors-Congress does not want his testimony to be reported by the press, BEFORE Goodling testifies, in case someone wants to "conform" their testimony to each other's...

You see, somebody may need to be prosecuted for perjury here, and I'm hoping like hell it is PAUL MCNULTY.

And you know what? I'm not at all sure that there won't be DOJ elements to help Congress in that regard, if it should come to that! (smile)

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Posted by: Mediconlinee | April 28, 2007 01:18 PM

Uh, no Haz, afraid you've got that ALL wrong about Paul McNulty-it's the other way around, and if you have in fact been reading the Post for the past two days, you will also know that DOJ lawyers have written a letter to Congress to investigate the fact that McNulty's aide Elston, was trying to put these ultra right-wing law student interns to work for DOJ's prized Honors Program-THIS was just changed by DOJ this week, to depoliticize it, AS A RESULT OF the complaint by the line attorneys at DOJ to Congress on this matter, concerning McNulty's further politicizing of the DOJ.

It was MCNULTY to come up with the "performance based" criteria, which was a lie, and then he blamed his lying under oath to Monica Goodling, a 33 year old aide, because, of course! HE couldn't take the heat for that, could he? THAT is why McNulty had to testify AGAIN yesterday behind closed doors-Congress does not want his testimony to be reported by the press, BEFORE Goodling testifies, in case someone wants to "conform" their testimony to each other's...

You see, somebody may need to be prosecuted for perjury here, and I'm hoping like hell it is PAUL MCNULTY.

And you know what? I'm not at all sure that there won't be DOJ elements to help Congress in that regard, if it should come to that! (smile)

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 28, 2007 01:20 PM

"What law is it exactly that the democrats have said he has broken?"

If this was only about the law, then there wouldn't be a problem. But it's not just the law. It's about a fairly obvious attempt to corrupt the justice system for political ends. You Republicans ought to be thanking the Democrats for investigating these people. If we weren't fighting to clean up the government and keep it honest, you can be pretty sure no one would be. Certainly not the Republicans.

Posted by: Mark F. | April 28, 2007 01:36 PM

"You Republicans ought to be thanking the Democrats for investigating these people. If we weren't fighting to clean up the government and keep it honest, you can be pretty sure no one would be. Certainly not the Republicans." Yep, if President Hillary was doing this, or if she does do it in 2009, you can imagine the whining.

Posted by: POed Lib | April 28, 2007 01:43 PM

I just have to laugh at the repuglicans and their both constant and inevitable "whining". They would neither know the truth nor acknowledge it, when it comes to their politicians. They believe more in the repuglican party they they do in God. Although, they profess their Christianity every opportunity they get, more independents are not believing them. The next election will show them just whose side this country is on. Let's use that broom the congressional repuglicans got so mush press on in the nineties. Let's sweep the corrupt hypocrites out and elect people who care about America and not to fill the pockets of their cronies. (Haliburton, big oil, pharmeceutical, the list goes on. Let's investigate big oil next.

Posted by: Richard | April 28, 2007 01:43 PM

The more I think about this affair, the more I think the Dems are taking the wrong tack. The Republican position seems to be that the president care fire US Attorneys at any time for any reason -- no questions asked or answered. If this includes firing them because they are investigating members of the president's party, or refusing to investigate members of the opposition, so be it.

Given that the odds are increasingly high that the next president will be a Democrat, the Dems ought to grab this interpretation and agree with it heartily. Then, come 2009, they'll be in a position not only to fire the incompetent hacks the Rove machine has inserted into the system, but to keep the pressure on their replacements to go after Rove and his assorted henchmen with fire and tongs.

Works for me.

Posted by: Peter Principle | April 28, 2007 01:57 PM

At issue here is the concept of loyalty, it seems to me. A comment made by a character named McPhee in a 1948 novel by C.S. Lewis called "That Hideous Strength", provides a good guideline. McPhee, an old Ulsterman, is reproved by a young woman for wishing to consider a serious question purely objectively. "There is such a thing as loyalty," she says. Then:
"McPhee ... suddenly looked up with a hundred covenanters in his eyes. 'There is, Ma'am,' he said. 'As you get older you will learn that it is a virtue too important to be lavished on individual personalities.'"
The ultimate object of their loyalty, whether or not they admit it even to themselves, may be the real difference between "Bushies" and true public servants.
This goes for Bush himself. Can you imagine even considering your personal toady, Harriet Miers, for the Supreme Court of the United States of America?

Posted by: penkuhn | April 28, 2007 02:16 PM

6.5 years of these criminal clowns and all it boils down to is party pandering, getting friends off the hook, and the following CYA; no actual governance has taken place.

Posted by: sales | April 28, 2007 02:47 PM

Gonzo needs to resign.

Posted by: Gentry | April 28, 2007 03:06 PM


Let me amend what I said. It does not matter what party Gonzo serves, the fact is we can and should do better than this. It is sort of like Bush is too much of a chump to just deal with the situation and get someone new in there. Everyone knows it will be a Republican, so where is the loss to that?

Posted by: Gentry | April 28, 2007 03:09 PM

Why is everybody buying the White House line that all that matters is if laws are broken. Does oversight also requires Congress to keep an eye on (in-) competence?

Posted by: Hein | April 28, 2007 03:31 PM

clay has a right to his opinion, obviously, but please don't take us for idiots by claiming you are not a bush fan. the very defense of bush and (baseless) attack on democrats alone make you a fan.
one additional point: you claim that all congress has accomplished since the democrats took over is go on vacation -- wow! considering that the last congress, run by republicans, only was in session for 97 days out of their entire two years, well, let's just say that lecturing democrats on taking vacations is like getting beauty lessons from a frog. and while we're on the subject: have you ever considered that this president has taken more vacation days than any other in history, including a full month before the worst attack on american soil in history. let's see: clear brush or pay attention to an urgent presidential briefing warning that america was about to be attacked by osama? that lazy horse's **s and his incompetence (and his incompetent, corrupt, greedy toadies) have brought nothing but ruin.
i challenge you: NAME ONE GOOD THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO AMERICA SINCE GWB STOLE THE PRESIDENCY?

Posted by: john dog | April 28, 2007 03:49 PM

I can't believe that regardless of legality many people are defending this kind of activity, by a government official no less!

If Goodling really did initiate a large scale deletion of prior materials while updating them to fit their current story, she's in a lot more trouble than she thought.

Posted by: Englischlehrer | April 28, 2007 04:30 PM

Clay 2046 must assume that Republicans will control the White House indefinitely, and that Bush and Cheney are trustworthy guys. Clinton asked for all 93 US attorneys to resign at the start of his reign (he was a better President than Bush but I would not trust either Clinton with my wallet or credit card). Nobody has ever simultaneously fired 8 US attorneys that had been appointed by their own regime. As the US spirals done in insane militarism, deficit spending and rising infant mortality rates among minorities, I don't want any President to have the kind of control over the DOJ than Rove and Cheney now have. I would like Congress to control all US attorney appointments and I want them to be very skeptical of political operatives, members of the Federalist society or the ACLU.

Gonzales is either an idiot or a person who believes that his best defense is to pretend that he's an idiot. Either way he should go and Congress should take their time reviewing the person proposed to succeed him.

Posted by: bobsnodgrass | April 28, 2007 05:05 PM

In response to Alan's query, it probably did seem like a good idea to let the locals off of the leash for awhile to chase down GOP wrong-doers. That has another edge as well, letting Congress know its members are hardly inviolate from prosecution - a be-careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. Or it may simply be that the brass in Washington is so busy briefing Gonzales about what he actually said and did, the field just decided to go ahead on their own hook. Hard to say with this bunch of varlets.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | April 28, 2007 05:26 PM

Thanks, Clare_d_loon. Your second point - is this a shot across the Democratic bow? - is a good one. If it unintentionlly keeps the Ds on a straighter and narrower path than they might follow otherwise, well, all to the good for the rest of us overburdened cynical taxpayers.

I liked your use of "varlets," too. Cheers.

Posted by: Alan | April 28, 2007 05:41 PM

"If Goodling really did initiate a large scale deletion of prior materials while updating them to fit their current story, she's in a lot more trouble than she thought"

Huh? English Teacher, where did that come from? I'm no fan of Monica Goodling, but that doesn't even make sense!

For the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, the ONE DOJ official who tends to the nuts and bolts of the operation, to blame a 33 year old aide (Goodling) who was in the SAME meetings he was in, for HIS perjury, defies belief.

Well, not really. Paul McNulty indicted for perjury has a really great ring to it-AND it would send a lesson to all attorneys working in the USG, particularly those in the Department of Justice, that NO ONE is above the law...

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 28, 2007 05:55 PM

Nothing wrong w getting McNulty for perjury AND Goodling for obstruction and conspiracy.

Posted by: bill | April 28, 2007 06:06 PM

Well, you'll get no argument from me on that, Bill.

And right now, I think Sen. Schumer is doing a fairly decent job, he and his Judiciary Committee, in trying to get to the bottom of this mess, and keeping after his "good friend" DAG Paul McNulty, (McNulty's words-he said he'd be able to smooth things over with Schumer from their Hill days-didn't quite work out that way, now did it?)

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 28, 2007 06:33 PM

Aye, I'm partial to some of the old fashioned characterizations. Blue language has become so commonplace as to be meaningless. "Varlets" sound low, mean, unprincipled, and unintelligent - very good descriptors for the current crop of bureaucrats.

Posted by: clare_d_loon | April 28, 2007 06:36 PM

The post by JP2 is so appreciated. Bush continues to commend Gonzales because the attorney general is protecting their illegal secrets. If we could just get those so-called missing e-mails, both from the White House system and the RNC, the arrests and indictments would soon begin.

Posted by: Gardenia | April 28, 2007 06:36 PM

JP2, you have given a well thought out and cogent argument to answer to Clay246's propagandized response to the article. I don't use propaganda lightly, either.

I have seen this argument too many times to count in the past several weeks. You would think that by now that the conservative right wing would give up on it, but I keep seeing it. Just google this phrase and see what you get: "attorney general firings 93".

I wonder if this is the work of a handful of cronies or could there be that many dumb people out there?

The problem is that I heard Tucker "I am not a Republican" Carlson ask this same question at least 5 times. But why, I ask? Has it really serverd a purpose besides made some people look stupid over and over and politically inept?

As for Gonzales, for the sake of the country he must go. All he's doing now is benefitting the Dems. for the next election. If the Republicans think they got hit hard this time, just wait.

The question still remains: what will come of our country in the mean time? I shudder the thought.

Posted by: ron | April 28, 2007 06:47 PM

To Rooth, Glad I nailed it for you. Wish I could nail Bush, but I'm just a citizen. Charles Bland

Posted by: Charles L. Bland | April 28, 2007 07:34 PM

Clay2046 you lie, you are the biggest Repubatard on this page. What you have written is repeated Republican Misinformation talking points, that you have heard from other sources like Rush Speedballs, and O'lyeee. Hon, if you don't understand big peoples talk then go ask a Librarian to sit you down in the children section and explain it to you. "I'm not a Republican", what a joke that was.

Posted by: nallcando | April 28, 2007 07:51 PM

This article scares the c*** out of me. Anyone who has been paying attention to the goings on of the last few years will recognize maybe all 10.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

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Posted by: MikeOwens | April 28, 2007 08:07 PM

USAs serve at the pleasure of the president. True. But according to DoJ testimony, it seems they serve at the pleasure of Kyle Sampson. The AG denies any involvement by him or the president in ordering these firings.

Note also that all federal prisoners serve their sentences at the pleasure of the president. His constitutional power of pardon allows him to set every one of them free, should it please him. The only thing preventing him is the political consequences he'd face for doing so.

Same for the political firings of USAs, especially when those can be shown to be attempts to delay or stymie prosecutions of corrupt Republican politicians. Pay particular attention to the Dusty Foggo and CIA connections to the firing of Carol Lam.

The Dems are using their subpoena power to shine some light onto the unprecedented political infestation of the DoJ. Let the sun shine in. Revuslion on both sides of the aisle will do the rest.

Posted by: jzap | April 28, 2007 08:13 PM

Mr. Cohen -- thanks for the fine read.

CLAY2046: You really need to get out more often and try reading something timely -- perhaps a newspaper or newsmagazine or columns like the well-informed Mr. Cohn's -- then try thinking about what you've read!

Posted by: rdrover | April 28, 2007 08:15 PM

If the Democrats dig they will find. This is a corrupt Administration. And we deserve to know just how corrupt it is.

Posted by: Jim Tewes | April 28, 2007 08:19 PM

GONZALES EMBARRASSED AT HARVARD REUNION

Attorney General Surprise Visit at 25th Reunion Met by Student Protests

Cambridge, Mass. - Alberto Gonzales was confronted by student protesters and forced to leave through a back door on Saturday during a visit to Harvard Law School for his 25th reunion. After two weeks clinging to save his job and defending allegations that he fired eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons, what might have been a relaxed day of reminiscing with old classmates became instead yet another reminder that both his job and his reputation are in serious jeopardy.

The Attorney General was on campus, unannounced to students, to deliver a lunchtime speech. But word quickly spread that a suspicious motorcade had been spotted by the campus center, and by the time Gonzales and his fellow classmates assembled on the law library steps for their class photo, a group of current students were there to greet him, having donned black hoods and orange jumpsuits. As the photographer told the class of 1982 to smile and say "cheese," the students yelled out that saying "torture," "resign" or "I don't recall" might be more appropriate.

The Attorney General's visit to his alma mater coincided with the third anniversary of the release of photos depicting the torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and came the day after a German federal prosecutor dismissed a case alleging that Gonzales was responsible for approving the policies that resulted in those abuses. These facts were not lost on Deborah Popowski, a second-year law student who had just finished organizing a nationwide student sit-in urging Congress to pass pending legislation that would restore detainees' rights to habeas corpus. "When I heard he was on campus, I was stuffing envelopes with letters to Congress in an office two floors above. I dropped everything. Gonzales needs to know that after approving poorly-reasoned memos that distort the rule of law and justify torture, he is simply not welcome here."

At a time when many in the nation are calling for Gonzales to resign, one third-year student managed to communicate the mood of his own alma mater directly to Gonzales. While the Attorney General's security detail kept protestors at bay and the photographer prepared the class photo, she slipped though the law library's front doors and approached Gonzales from behind. "On behalf of many other Harvard Law students," she said, "I'd like to tell you that we are ashamed to have you as an alumnus of this school. And we're glad you're here to be able to tell you that." Gonzales thanked the student and offered to shake her hand, but was refused. After the class photo was taken, several of the Attorney General's classmates clapped and approached the protesting students to thank them for their efforts.

Following the group photo, Gonzales ducked into the library to take a stroll around the main reading room, which, on the weekend before final exams, was full of students going over their notes. When the protestors caught up with Gonzales, the cavernous reading room, ordinarily a place of hushed whispers, echoed with chants of "shame" and "resign." Gonzales was quickly whisked down a back staircase, out a basement emergency exit and into a waiting SUV. As the motorcade pulled off from in front of historic Austin Hall, Thomas Becker, a second-year law student, stood in an orange jumpsuit and black hood, waving goodbye. When the cars were out of sight, Becker pulled off his hood, smiled, and said "good riddance."


Posted by: Disgusted Harvard Student | April 28, 2007 08:43 PM

Does anyone think that maybe Gonzales REALLY did NOT remember? The last time we saw a hearing where the witness couldn't remember anything and had that deer in the headlights look was Ronald Reagan at the Iran/Contra hearing. Maybe Gonzales needs a neurologist. Gonzales could not remember things that did not matter one way or another. His top aide said he never said much. He does not appear to have written anything either. I think Gonzales may have early Alzheimer.

Posted by: Alyce J. Bowers | April 28, 2007 08:53 PM

Crazy Politico, when you say, `Lets see, you fire all 93 when you take office, because political appointees of another party or president may not be working towards your policy goals. Then, when 8 of your hires don't work towards your goals it's "criminal" to fire them? Then firing the original 93 should be just as bad.` Yes, there is a difference. Say when John F. Kennedy took office as part of his platform he wanted to eradicate segregation from the South. It was fully within Kennedy's rights to bring in 93 new US Attorneys for him to push his new platform, which was legal. What would have been illegal would be to tell each of those US Attorneys to continue with investigating only Republicans and drop the investigations against the Democrats. This is where you could argue where obstruction of justice comes in.

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Posted by: MikeOwens | April 28, 2007 09:18 PM

In this case we find the fitting context for that American proverb:
Bong Hits 4 Jesus!
What else needs to be said here?

Posted by: frank burns | April 28, 2007 09:23 PM

All you A-wipes who keep saying the Clinton fired 93 or whatever: Use the toilet paper on your brain for a change. Can't you see that something "is wrong with the picture" when no one but right-wing bloggers and a-wipe posters are saying that? Krighst all mighty, what have you got between your ears. If there were any truth in it, Republican congressman would also know that by now, wouldn't you think. Oh -- a better idea, just keep repeating that, so everyone can see how dense you Bushies are.

Posted by: frank burns | April 28, 2007 09:28 PM

Very interesting, Disgusted, thanks for that. That gives me a little hope that your school has not gone totally timid.

I do feel it, it IS spring cleaning time... People all over the country realize the cleaning MUST be done. It's time to scrub the Department of Justice, to scrub the politics out of the rule of law, to sweep out the politician/lawyers that have so corrupted and distorted the administration of Justice in this country for the entire Bush administration-our collective spring cleaning of our corrupt Department of Justice comes not a moment too soon...

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | April 28, 2007 10:09 PM

What laws did Gonzales break? Well, for one thing, he is the only attorney general in American history to attempt to legitimize torture and abuse of prisoners. Torture has been inflicted at various times in American history, no doubt, but who other than Gonzales has tried to make it the law of the land? That violates solemn treaty obligations as well as U.S. Federal and military statues. Does it not? IMPEACH BUSH NOW.

Posted by: | April 28, 2007 10:11 PM

Ron and other commentators, thanks for the good words. I agree with the sentiment concerning the 93 and 8 talking points. Even though I have heard Clay2046's point articulated several hundred times over, I at least respect that he is putting the idea on the table, and that he is sincere in expressing the opinion. I attempted to engage his criticisms based on that standard . . . Although, after a long day at work, this is sometimes easier said than done.

Also, a good point by Tom Barnes. I think one of the difficulties here is that many of the national news sources--especially cable and broadcast news--have been extremely slow to understand the significance of the story. Part of this is that this story does seem to require a bit of specialized knowledge and historical perspective--although for the purposes of this U.S. Attorneys issue it's information that could probably be summarized in a 10 to 15 paragraph history.

Fortunately, there are some first-rate sources covering this story as it unfolds. AC's Bench Conference has been an extremely helpful source.

As have Talkingpointsmemo.com and TPMmuckraker; McClatchey news service; and recently the Legal Times, which has run a few hard hitting, first-rate news stories over the past couple weeks.

I think the Post's coverage by Dan Eggen, Amy Goldstein, and Paul Kane has been good over the past month. Although I am mystified by the placement of some of these stories in the print edition. e.g. "McCain makes entirely predictable statement about Iraq" gets on the front page one day; while "White House emails 'lost'" somehow ends up on page 4. I guess the paper to its credit at least covered the story, but I'm still a little shaky on the placement.

I think even some local papers like the San Diego Tribune, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Las Vegas Review Journal--to name a few--have done a first rate job of explaining how and why this issue matters at a local level.

Many political blogs have done a good job too. While these bloggers may have a political agenda, the better ones anchor their analysis with citations which can be used to vet their accuracy.

The information on this issue is available; it just takes some time and energy to put the pieces together.

I suspect many of the commentators here probably are already aware of these source, but if not, there they are.

Posted by: JP2 | April 28, 2007 10:48 PM

hey, we are all ruled at the pleasure of the President. doncha get it?

Posted by: ked | April 28, 2007 11:28 PM

Alberto Gonzales has ended his career where it began: Covering up illegal activity by Bush. Recall the first election, when Gonzales made an absurd legal argument (that Bush as governor of Texas might be called upon some day to grant clemency in a misdemeanor DWI case) to get Bush out of jury duty so that no one would discover that Bush himself had a past DWI (he left a question on the jury information card about whether he had ever been a criminal defendant blank). It was clear from the beginning what Gonzales' job was, and he has been 100% consistent in performing that job in the years since the Supreme Court awarded Bush the presidency. Just like the clemency argument, the torture memo, and now the Senate hearings, Gonzales has demonstrated a willingness to take a position, no matter how patently stupid or wrong, to cover for the evil deeds of Bush and associates. This is the job Gonzales has always done, and will always do, until someone stops him. I am amazed that it has taken so many years for the world to see what was obvious from the beginning, about the entire Bush posse. I just watched the movie, "United 93," and I could not help but think how admirable those passengers were for recognizing what they were faced with very quickly and taking decisive action to save our nation's capitol. Too many of those who were supposed to act in our behalf seemed content to sit there, stupified, while Bush and his ilk crashed the ship of state nose first at high velocity straight into the heart of our nation. With Team Bush, what is now is what has always been.

Posted by: attorneyofrecord | April 29, 2007 12:12 AM

This is America in 2007, not England in the 18th century. People may have served at the pleasure of the king, but it is fundamentally wrong for any US Attorney to serve at the pleasure of the President. The reasons should be obvious, nobody can perform a job that needs to be 100% objective in its duty and outlook if that job depends on pleasing the boss. Working as a US Attorney at the pleasure of Rove's Robot means that ethics and law take a back seat to party politics. There is so much wrong with the way this country conducts its business that it has really ceased to be a democracy, almost in any sense of the word. We aren't as honest as Russia is with itself, it does not pretend to be anything but what it is. We on the other hand chastise the rest of the world for not following American principles of democracy. Give me a break. We are a nation of snobish hippocrites who have not looked in the mirror recently to see who we really have become. Don't blame it all on 9/11, the slide began much earlier. With the excuse of protecting us from another 9/11, Bush just helped it reach full blossom. The shame is that the majority of citizens were not inteligent enough to see through what was more of a fine mist than a fog, causing such BS as the Patriot Act to come about allowing DOJ attornies to be chosen without oversight.

Posted by: tank | April 29, 2007 12:58 AM

I wish the link to the "already-long list" of GOP lawmakers who either want him to go or say they don't know how he can possibly stay actually linked to such a list. I still find it difficult to find out how my supposed representatives stand on important issues.

Posted by: Elias | April 29, 2007 02:10 AM

Tank, I would agree that the Bush actions have taken us several steps in the direction of Putin led Russia. However, the results from the 2006 election demonstrates that the analogy holds, if it holds at all, weakly. Gary Kasparov's interviews on this subject illuminate some of the manifest differences between the U.S. and Russia today.

I think there is some shame in the fact that a near majority of voters (and a majority of electors) selected Bush for two-terms, along with a number of the rubber stamps in congress.

However, democratic government was never premised on the system producing optimal results in every election, or even in consecutive presidential elections. The measure is how the system pans out over the long-term.

Hopefully, there will be some recognition that politicians with a famous name, a disastrous professional career outside of politics, no national security experience, and even less experience with Constitutional law are ill-suited to take on the responsibilities of the nation's Chief Executive--these aren't skills that can be picked up on the fly the day after the swearing in ceremony, or even several months before the election.

The press plays a role in this process too. Although, if the preview of 2008 is any indication, the burden will rest on the public to do their fair share of the due diligence.

Posted by: JP2 | April 29, 2007 02:41 AM

Peace people

We love you

Posted by: HelloWorld | April 29, 2007 05:40 AM

After stealing the election of 2000 and in the years that followed, Bush, Cheney & Co. created a "Partisan Rewards" program that has been doling out favors, funding, high appointments, no-bid contracts, judgeships, ambassadorships, cabinet posts, etc. to any and all political hacks whose only qualification was fealty to the partisan aims of this administration. As the firing of the eight US attorney's shows, those who didn't fully comprehend the strict knee-bending requirements of the "Rewards Program" where the main aim was warped and zealous partisanship above anything else and who may have had other considerations in mind(such as adherence to the Constitution and the Rule of Law as their precedent authority) were dealt with in a manner consistent with the despotic and imperious nature of this administration. Perhaps before accepting their appointments, one might have thought that the "attorneys eight" should have known better than to expect the worse if they didn't toe the line. Mr. Bush, who is starting to consider his legacy (I saw it on 60 minutes a few weeks ago) will, hopefully, and deservedly, be honered as the worst president in this nation's history. This man, and even more so, his ultra-doctrinaire vice president, are leaving behind a country whose stature will be second to none in overall hatred and enmity by the rest of the world (when I travel abroad I make like I'm a Canadian), a country that has seen its rgulatory regime flushed down the toilet (OSHA standards, unsafe food supply, religion and profits undermining the FDA, toothless EPA), and a country where the rights and protections of individuals have been purposefully and systematically stripped away by this administration's innovative approaches (to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions, etc.) As for the eight U.S. attorneys, it's sad to think that the eventual resignation of Alberto Gonzales will close the book on this (the democrats don't have the courage nor the stomach to soldier on) when the real story of what happened to them took place as much in the White House (if not more so, Rove, Miers, etc.) and that it is Mr. Bush who should be held accountable for the sins of his administration.

Posted by: Rocco | April 29, 2007 11:11 AM

It seems pretty clear to many people why Mr. Gonzales' actions and supervisorial efficacy are questionable and, perhaps, not in the best interests of America.

There are those who disagree.

I am fairly certain few of us would spend days or even weeks trying to convince an eager and bright-eyed four year old that the tooth fairy does not exist. Frankly, to persist in doing so would inevitably cross the line into cruelty.

And, so too, must we heave a sigh and realize that there are those who, not because they stubbornly choose, but due to limiting factors beyond even their own control, ethically, logically, will never be persuaded that Mr. Gonzales or Mr. Bush may have done anything suspect.

Most adults eventually go about their own business and simply allow the four year old to determine, to their own satisfaction, whether the tooth fairy exists or not.

This is where we currently stand.

Should AG Gonzales resign? Of course.
Should President Bush ask him to resign? Of course.
Why has this not happened? Because President Bush believes his personal beliefs and desires are far more important than either the will of the American public or the overall good of America, as a nation.
The question is not why Bush believes this, but is instead why are we as a country putting up with such foolish and childish behavior from our foremost executive?

Posted by: S B | April 29, 2007 11:47 PM

Martha Stewart went to prison for her use of the "I don't recall" where it was deemed that a reasonable person would recall such an event.

I have been in management for over 20 years now and I remember each and every person I had to fire; these are not pleasant memories but they come with the job. I have never fired anyone without knowing exactly why they had to be fired.

I would have to believe that only a callous cold-hearted person would not remember the day he turned someone else's life upside down by firing them from their job; apparently without a valid reason. I wonder is this is part of some sicko pleasure of the President thing as is claimed. It has been claimed that W Bush luvs watching the sicko Gitmo torture tapes; maybe Gonzo justs gets off on firing people just cuz he likes to? But then again, one would expect him to remember it, especially if it was a thing of great pleasure or pain, wouldn't they?

Nope, I think it is just rampant incompetence from the top down. We left that one bad apple sitting on the top of the barrel too long. FEMA, CIA, VA, US Military, Department of State, Social Security, FBI, Dept of Justice, Supreme Court, these are some of the agencies/organizations now deemed weakened if not made totally disfunctional since Bush became President.

Take your pick; either Gonzo lied to cover up his incompetence or he is one of the most cold-hearted people around. Either way, do we really want that sort of person being the United States Attorney General?

And if the President is still getting some sort of pleasure out of all this chaos, we need a new President NOW!

Posted by: Fixitj | April 30, 2007 12:08 PM

Alberto Gonzales is a product of the federal law enforcement culture of the Bush Administration. He has been derelict in his duties to protect our nation's borders, is responsible for the devastating effect of allowing millions of illegal aliens to violate our borders commit tax and identify fraud and other crimes, has more likely than not been selective in targeting law enforcement agents who do not share the Administration view on open borders, has allowed Mexico to interfere with our justice system, has been implicated in stonewalling the investigation of a pedophile scandal in TYC and has shown lack of character by not being truthful about the firing of the 8 U.S. attorneys among other things.
It is time for Alberto Gonzales to go only someone very Corrupt or a total Moron would appointed him AG in the first place!

Posted by: bl | May 2, 2007 03:50 PM

Bush will never fire Gonzales for the sole reason that Gonzo knows too much.

Frankly, the firings of the US Attorneys is probably the least important secret that he knows. As White House Cousel and AG, he was in a position to know exactly what's going on in Guantanamo and Abu Ghirab, about the "extraordinary renditions" of suspects in foreign countries, about the NSA domestic eavesdropping program, about electronic spying on bank transactions, about which domestic laws the Administration is ignoring per its "signing statements," about why the Administration issued so many "terror alerts" just before the 2004 eletions, about the Justice Department's obsession with "voter fraud" which may have been used to suppress turnout, and a host of other dirty secrets that probably haven't even been publicly unearthed. In short, he probably knows enough to send people to jail if he wanted to.

I bet Gonzo gets to keep his job as long as he wants it. It's a small price to pay for his silence.


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