Un-Mighty Gonzo at the Bat
Like the lousy or slumping ballplayer who consistently finds himself at the plate with the bases loaded and the game on the line, trouble and pressure typically finds those who are vulnerable to it. In the world of politics and law, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is that lousy player -- devoid of independence, leadership competence or courage. And so, naturally, trouble and controversy keep finding him.
Last week, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, went public with a letter to Cheney's office in which he asked the Vice President to explain how and why his subordinates believe that the Vice President's office is not "within the executive branch" for purposes of a national security review by the folks at the National Archives. Now we learn from Michael Isikoff at Newsweek that Rep. Waxman plans to expand his inquiry to include the Justice Department"s lack of response (six months and counting) to a request by the National Archives for a ruling on the matter.
Last week, Justice Department officials said it was not unusual for legal analysis of this sort to take time. And obviously thanks to the controversy over thep prosecutor purge the Department itself isn't running at full steam these days -- last Friday yet another high-ranking official hightailed it out of Washington before the roof caves in. But this is a national security issue -- whether or not the Information Security Oversight Office ought to be able to review the classification procedures in place at the Vice President's office -- so the reasonable question for Gonzales is this: what else are Justice Department officials working on that is more important that determining whether the ISOO may proceed?
Actually, I have two other questions for the Attorney General: How much time and energy have Justice Department officials spent trying to save their own skin instead of resolving this dispute? And why should anyone believe that it isn't sheer fear of and obeisance toward Cheney that is preventing the Attorney General from declaring that of course the Vice President's office is within the executive branch? Gonzales is afraid to swing and unable to play. Again, he needs to quit the game.
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