The Dynamic Duo of Discrepancy
"It will be interesting to know what the true facts are," President George W. Bush told ABC News the other night when asked about the Central Intelligence Agency's premature and perhaps illegal destruction of interrogation recordings.
Of course, the president doesn't have to wait for the investigations to unfold. All he has to do is pick up the phone and call a couple of his old pals.
First, he can call former White House counsel Harriet Miers (whose Washington legacy becomes more tainted each month). Miers was at her post when the CIA got rid of the tapes in late 2005.
"Hey, Harriet," the president should ask, "did you order the CIA to keep the tapes? Or did you express your 'opposition' to destroying them in a way that would leave wiggle room for the agency to do what it wanted to do?"
"Hey, Harriet," he should add, "couldn't we have protected the tapes? I mean, we've argued all these years that presidential power in the war on terrorism is virtually unlimited."
The president's second call could be to his even closer friend, Alberto Gonzales. I'm sure the disgraced former attorney general would take the call between the big-money speeches he's giving at colleges across the country.
"Hey, Al," the president should ask. "Where was the Justice Department when the CIA was begging for permission to destroy the tapes? Did you guys know that, at the same time, a federal judge was asking federal prosecutors about the tapes' existence?"
"Hey Al," the president should ask, "did you gin up one of your famous 'memos' to authorize the destruction of the tapes? I mean, if you could justify torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions, what's a little domestic obstruction of justice?"
It's hard to know which would be more disconcerting -- that the president is actually as ignorant as the rest of us about this scandal or that he knows way more about it than he will say.
But if the destruction of material evidence is a shocking violation of the rule of law, it also has a bit of an upside. Maybe now, finally, there will be enough political will to haul the Duo of Discrepancy, Miers and Gonzales, into a closed room on Capitol Hill for under-oath, on-the-record questioning about their roles in the affair. After all, what are friends for?
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