March 11: Schumer calls on Gonzales to resign

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Democratic leadership and a member of the Judiciary Committee, called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign in the wake of the dismissal of U.S. attorneys and the disclosure that the FBI had illegally sought personal information about people in the United States under the aegis of its counterterrorism program.

"Attorney General Gonzales is a nice man, but he either doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution even when the president should not want it to be so," Schumer said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), on CNN's "Late Edition," seconded Schumer's call, while Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said on "Face the Nation" that Gonzales' future is "a question for the president and the attorney general, but I do think there have been lots of problems."

Eight U.S. attorneys were fired in December by Gonzales's Justice Department, moves that department officials called routine and others have suggested were politically motivated. Gonzales last week called the firings "an overblown personnel matter" in a USA Today opinion piece, a comment that drew a scathing response from Specter.

And last week, the Justice Department inspector general reported that the FBI had used tools known as national security letters and emergency letters to improperly obtain telephone records and other private data.

Specter and Schumer agreed that the provision of the Patriot Act that grants the FBI expanded powers to conduct investigations with national security letters might have to be reexamined in upcoming congressional hearings. "The provision has been very badly abused, ... I think that the hearings ought to go beyond an analysis of the failures to comply with the law, but very active consideration about withdrawing some of those power," Specter said.

Democrats search for unity on Iraq

Schumer suggested Democrats would oppose, as part of his party's broader effort to limit U.S. involvement in Iraq, a decision announced yesterday by President Bush to send nearly 5,000 more troops to Iraq.

Bush also announced a deployment of 3,500 troops to Afghanistan, a move Schumer said that Democrats are unlikely to oppose.

SCHUMER: Most Democrats will support more troops in Afghanistan. After all, that's where the nexus of terrorism is. ... As for Iraq, whether it's 4,000 more troops or 40,000 more troops, we Democrats believe almost unanimously that we need a dramatic change in course, change in strategy away from policing a civil war and much more in the direction of a much more limited and narrow mission, which is preventing terrorism such as we're trying to prevent in Afghanistan.

Specter said he would like to hear more about the impact of the additional troops that have already gone to Iraq as part of the president's "surge" plan. "There have been reports that things are improving. Perhaps not a whole lot, but to some extent," Specter said. "As yet, the Democrats in the House who have taken the lead on curtailing funding have not come up with a plan."

Democrats last week announced aggressive new measures to narrow U.S. involvement in Iraq. A House spending bill could begin withdrawals by the year's end and require combat duties to cease by August 2008. Senate Democrats have proposed a joint resolution to limit the authority Congress gave President Bush in 2002 to invade Iraq. It would require withdrawal to begin within four months and set March 2008 as a goal for withdrawing most troops

But appearances by Democrats on the Sunday shows indicated that the party has not yet unified behind either bill.

On "Fox News Sunday," Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a member of her party's liberal wing, said she wouldn't sign on to the Democratic House proposal because it does not go far enough in cutting funding for the war. "We just voted on a non-binding resolution that said we do not support the surge, or the expansion, and now we're going to fund it? We believe that we should use funding to safely exit our soldiers from Iraq with a well-thought-out exit plan."

Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, suggested the U.S. can't do anything to help Iraq. "What is happening here is, there is a self-sustaining sectarian violence. Shia killing Sunni. Let's cut through it all. Everybody in the outside could go away and be perfect. No one involved. We still have Americans getting killed."

On ABC's "This Week," Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), though, said it is improbable that Democrats could block funding for the war or even for the troop increase Bush announced yesterday. "As long as he has the authority as commander-in-chief to conduct the war, he's going to be able to control a lot of these sorts of things. I don't think people are going to go against him in terms of cutting back the appropriations for more troops," Webb said.

War in the Middle East: Iraq Security Summit

U.S. and Iraqi officials portrayed Saturday's Baghdad security summit involving Iraq, the U.S., Iran and Syria as a first, limited step toward regional cooperation, but they acknowledged that a wide gulf remains between the U.S. and Iran.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, said on NBC's "Meet the Press," "There was agreement that there will be working groups formed involving Iraq and its neighbors to deal with security, to deal with the issue of oil and electricity, and also with the refugees. So there were agreement on practical steps to move forward. We will see what happens on the ground."

Khalilzad said his direct contact with Iranian officials was limited to exchanges across the negotiating table and a brief, two-minute conversation while shaking hands. There was "no substantive bilateral meeting," Khalilzad said.

The issue was notable because the U.S. has resisted direct talks with the Iranians, because of Tehran's nuclear program and allegations that it was materially supporting the insurgency in Iraq. Khalilzad said he raised the issue with the Iranians, and "we are monitoring their behavior."

Khalilzad also insisted that the meeting was not a change in policy, and that he has been authorized to have talks with Iran over Iraq. He suggested that the standing policy of not meeting with Iran only concerned nuclear policy.

"A secretary of state level meeting with them and any discussion on nuclear issues will not take place until they verifiably suspend their enrichment and related nuclear program," he said.

On CNN, Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi foreign minister, called the meeting a "major success." But he said that, despite his country's repeated requests that Iran stop supporting the insurgency, it has only received mixed messages.

"Sometimes they deny, sometimes they say there may be people acting beyond the authorities, but their fingerprints are there, definitely. And we have repeatedly asked them not to interfere. And we also alerted them to the dangers of a spillover of the situation here in Iraq immediately on their interests," Zebari said.

Thompson mulling presidential bid

Fred Thompson, the actor-turned-senator-turned-actor, said he is considering running for the Republican presidential nomination. On Fox, the former Tennessee senator, who has acted in films such as "Cape Fear" and has a recurring role on NBC's "Law & Order, said he won't make a decision for several months.

"I'm giving some thought to it, going to leave the door open," Thompson said. Displeasure with the top tier of Republican candidates among social conservatives has surfaced recently, and Thompson was asked whether he could fill a gap in the current field. "It is not really a reflection on the current field at all," he said.

In contrast, though, to the current top three candidates, Thompson, 64, has a reputation for opposing abortion rights, gay marriage and gun control. He also said he supports the president's current Iraq policy in precisely its current form, and immediately would pardon former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Speculation about Thomspon intensified after former Senate majority leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) recently touted him as a viable candidate.
"I think people are somewhat disillusioned. I think a lot of people are cynical out there. I think they're looking for something different," Thompson said. "And I think that they're going to be open to different things."

Also on the 2008 watch, "This Week" host George Stephanopoulous asked Sen. Webb if he would consider being the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 2008. Webb said he is still finding his way in the Senate and noted that he cares a lot about criminal justice issues. But by no means did he say he wouldn't accept a spot on a White House ticket.

Walter Reed Scandal

Former Kansas senator and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, who was appointed to co-chair a bipartisan commission to probe military and veterans health care in the wake of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center scandal, said he would have virtually unlimited power to investigate.

"If we can find one soldier who is not being treated properly as far as medical care and under transition of the V.A. or back to their unit or the Guard or reserve, he wants us to fix it," Dole said on ABC. He will lead the commission with Donna Shalala, the health and human secretary during the Clinton administration.

By Zachary Goldfarb |  March 11, 2007; 2:35 PM ET
Previous: March 11 Preview: Baghdad Summit | Next: March 18 Preview: U.S. Attorney Firings

Comments

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Who are they going to replace Gonazles with, Mel Carnahan?

Posted by: Jeb's Boehner | March 11, 2007 4:58 PM

Repentance is preferrable to permission...Or so it seems these days. Oh, drop in a dash or two of forgetfulness, and all offenses are pardonable...Then, if all else fails, either fire the guy or send him off to rehab. A couple of days later drop another bomb of juicy news, and Joe American will forget all about it, as usual. We are sitting ducks for those who gather weekly in Grover's office to plot and plan the demise the Republic of the United States of America. They think we are all too stupid and too fat to protect. Americans are such a nuisance to the brilliant and wealthy. What will it be next? Pediphile Senator?...nope, did that....Corporate scandal?...nope, did that....High profile female executive?...did that....Soldiers covered in mildew?...done....Hmmm, it must be time for another BIG natural disaster...Rev up the HAARP!!! Check it out.

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 5:03 PM

Harriet Meirs?

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 5:05 PM

Just as new report is released that Halliburton stole $2.7 Billion of our money, Halliburton announces it is relocating to Daubi. How much kick back money is Halliburton paying AG Gonzales to look the other way while they escape justice?

Posted by: fwonschik | March 11, 2007 6:00 PM

Fwonschik, That is what I was wondering too! Also, if Halliburton is relocating - what is that doing to our economy when all those workers loose their jobs? Guess no one planned for that.... Also, to Sonja Poet: Right On! I think that you hit the nail on the head on all counts. Some of these guys exemplify *Integrity*, NOT! GJKBear in SATX.

Posted by: gjkbear | March 11, 2007 6:11 PM

A pardon for Scooter, the Neo-cons are scared Scooter will spill his guts on the rest of the White House crew while getting boned in the big house. That's why they are all in such a hurry to pardon him.
Then again, if he is pardonned, he can be subpoened since he has immunity and if he refuses to come clean and dosen't cooperate, he goes to prison anyway. Does he want to fall on his sword for Dick and George?

Posted by: Tom | March 11, 2007 7:13 PM

SIN defined. Sincere Integrity Negated. SIN is the acronym.

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 7:18 PM

Senator Schumer another empty suit talking on the Sunday shows. Doesn't anyone realize that Schumer only talks on Sundays he either thinks some people listen or nobody listens at all, the latter probably being the truth. For once lets hear the Dems talk about something important. Did they notice the gas prices are rising, they are in charge now, wheres the hearing, where the subpoenas, are they falling down on the job or are they hoping the american people aren't watching and won't demand they do something. Come on Schumer, Biden, instead of flapping your gums because some poor U S Attorney lost his/her job, and beleive me they just go right back into private practice and make 3 times the money, whats the big deal, people lose their jobs everyday and I don't see congress worried about that. Their not calling for an investigation when the common man loses his job. Stuffed shirts all of you, especially the Democrats, all hot air, no substance, no guts, cut and run, go and hide. Sen. Specter the City of Philadelphia is falling right before your eyes and what are you doing, thats what I thought. They have a bunch of crooks running for Mayor and no one cares! You don't worry cause you got yours, just like the rest of them.

Posted by: rob | March 11, 2007 7:38 PM

WOW! They rolled out the natural disaster already! 200 homes evacuated in California! Am I psychic or what?.......Maybe it is God letting us know He is NOT happy with us?..

Posted by: Anonymous | March 11, 2007 7:42 PM

BYE BYE 4th Amendment: As its name indicates, Operation FALCON is a part of the recent steps taken by Washington to increase the centralization and information-sharing of its police and intelligence agencies.

"This operation, which produced the largest number of arrests ever recorded during a single initiative, would not have been possible without the cooperation of our law enforcement partners on the federal, state, and local levels," USMS director Benigno Reyna told an April 14 press conference. At the press conference U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said the exercise showed the government's dedication to deal with "traditional violent crime" as well as "terrorist" threats on U.S. soil."As a result of this effort, we've developed new relationships, established new lines of communication," Gonzalez added.

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 7:48 PM

IT GET'S WORSE: Gonzalez mentioned some of the new tools that the cops have at their disposal, including the "sneak-and-peek" provision in the Patriot Act that allows the cops to sneak in and search a home or property secretly and present a search warrant after the fact. This was justified under the rubric of fighting the "war on terrorism." "It has been very useful in a variety of--dealing with all kinds of crime," Gonzalez said. "It is a tool that the Congress says that law enforcement can use in dealing with different kinds of criminals." EVER COME HOME AND FIND YOUR HOUSE UNLOCKED????? Y

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 7:49 PM

MAYBE IT'S A GOOD THING: n total 10,340 people were arrested and 13,800 cleared on felony warrants, the Justice Department announced. In most states, such as in Louisiana where nearly 349 people were rounded up, local police were deputized to act as marshals to cross jurisdictions. Government agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 37 districts and the Social Security Administration in 17 districts were also involved. An April 15 article in the Connecticut Post reported that U.S. deputy marshals and detectives in Bridgeport and Stratford, Connecticut, "combed utility, motor vehicle and labor department records and used electronic surveillance, informants and stakeouts to get their men."

In the Chicago area, the cops tracked down a man who had escaped from a federal detention center in Fort Dix, New Jersey, in 1997. They knocked on neighbors' doors and questioned his girlfriend. "Everybody knew him, he was very personable," Deputy U.S. Marshal John Jaehnig said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "Someone finally told us what train he was going to be on coming home. We caught up to him walking down the street."

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 7:50 PM

Hey Chuck: Meet me on camera three...Thanks...Fix this, please.

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 11, 2007 7:54 PM

Hey rob, you wouldn't go by King of Zouk sometimes, would ya?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 12, 2007 10:24 AM

Alberto Gonzales recommened the US not follow Geneva Convention rules of engagement in our current wars. Mr. Gonzales also recommended the US follow the path they take regarding spying on American's Citizens on American soil. Mr. Gonzales recommended the suspension of habaeus corpus. Lets keep Mr. Gonzales until he can be held accountable for his actions against the state. Mr. Gonzales sanctions state torture and murder, things he can be quite proud of I am sure!

Posted by: Patrick | March 12, 2007 4:44 PM

it is obvious that Sen. Schumer is looking forward to a confirmation hearing for a new AG, where he can preside as Chairman and do some grandstanding

Posted by: rernatk | March 12, 2007 6:32 PM

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