Waas: Alberto Gonzales Turns on Bush

Murray Waas has a new article in the Atlantic on the infamous Ashcroft hospital visit during which the ailing Ashcroft was pressured to sign off on Bush's warrantless electronic surveillance plan. Murray says:

"According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit. "


...."Gonzales has also told Justice Department investigators that President Bush played a more central and active role than was previously known in devising a strategy to have Congress enable the continuation of the surveillance program when questions about its legality were raised by the Justice Department, as well as devising other ways to circumvent the Justice Department’s legal concerns about the program, according to people who have read Gonzales’s interviews with investigators."

The import:

In portraying President Bush as directly involved in making some of the more controversial decisions about his administration’s surveillance program, Gonzales may, intentionally or unintentionally, be drawing greater legal scrutiny to the actions of President Bush and other White House officials. And what began as investigations narrowly focused on Gonzales’s conduct could easily morph into broader investigations leading into the White House, and possibly leading to the appointment of a special prosecutor.

Murray also discusses the White House fear of a "nightmare scenario" in the context of Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

But in the hands of congressional Democrats, a public report accusing Gonzales and other administration officials of misconduct could make it difficult for Mukasey to resist their calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.

One thing to keep in mind is that Michael Mukasey will not be Attorney General next year. Regardless of whether Obama or McCain are elected, we will get a new Attorney General. I doubt either would call for their new Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Bush Administration on warrantless wiretapping. But that's just my opinion.

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    Get this (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Steve M on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:17:10 PM EST
    The phone started ringing in the makeshift command center next to John Ashcroft's hospital room. Janet Ashcroft had been at her husband's side for six days. He was in intensive care, sedated, recovering from emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder. Mrs. Ashcroft's orders were unequivocal: no calls, from anyone, for any reason. According to two people who saw the FBI's handwritten logs, the White House operator--on behalf of Gonzales or Card, it was unclear which--asked to be connected to the attorney general. The hospital switchboard, following orders, declined.

    That evening, the FBI logged a call from the president of the United States. No one had the nerve to refuse him. The phone rang at Ashcroft's bedside. Bush told his ailing cabinet chief that Alberto Gonzales and Andy Card were on their way.


    And yet, Ron Suskind, in his new book, (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by litigatormom on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:14:50 PM EST
    "The Way of the World," says that Gonzo and Card didn't tell Bush that Comey and Mueller and other DOJ and FBI personnel, had threatened to quit if the President reauthorized the program over the objections of the DOJ. Supposedly, when Comey and Mueller came to the WH, Bush was astonished to here that things have become so serious, and that's why he agreed to "compromise" by letting Comey make changes in the executive order.

    Of course, Bush subsequently disciplined Gonzales for this failure to give him full information by making him Attorney General.


    that is incredible. (none / 0) (#2)
    by Lil on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:21:25 PM EST
    If this were a movie, I'd find it hard to believe.

    I just find this whole thing so perplexing. (none / 0) (#5)
    by Maria Garcia on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:55:12 PM EST
    Bush is clearly so incurious and irresponsible about  most things. His whole attitude about the financial crisis makes that clear as day. And yet he cared so much about this. Its fascinating to me the things that Bush cared about and decided to directly involve himself with.

    It really makes you wonder (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Steve M on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:00:44 PM EST
    what the heck the big secret is.

    I'm not a tinfoiler, but if this wiretapping program were exactly as it's been described to us - narrowly targeted only at terrorists, including only overseas communications, etc - is there any way that John Ashcroft and all his senior staff would be talking about resigning en masse just because some T wasn't crossed somewhere?  Something about this program placed it right on the razor's-edge of propriety, even amongst highly conservative war-on-terror types.


    I always wondered (none / 0) (#15)
    by KeysDan on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:58:56 PM EST
    why Mrs. Ashcroft was not asked about who called that
    night.  She was, apparently, was in the room when the
    mystery call came in.

    It's really all Gonzales has left. . . (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by LarryInNYC on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:22:56 PM EST
    isn't it?  "The President made me do it."

    Gonzales' memory seems to have improved (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by robrecht on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:50:57 PM EST

    Et tu, Alberto? (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by votermom on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:09:09 PM EST
    Will no one stand fast with The Great Uniter?

    Barney, perhaps? n/t (none / 0) (#12)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:17:49 PM EST
    Too bad (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:54:50 PM EST
    all these people didn't come forward earlier. They all seem to have started talking when it was too late to do anything.

    Wow. Stunning. (none / 0) (#6)
    by lucky leftie on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 01:55:26 PM EST
    But I'm not sure what the implications are for further legal action.  Does retroactive immunity cover Bush and his cabinet?

    Whoops, never mind. (none / 0) (#8)
    by lucky leftie on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:02:16 PM EST
    The article actually explains what the implications are.  

    it really says a lot (none / 0) (#9)
    by of1000Kings on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:04:05 PM EST
    about the people who supported all this wiretapping nonsense in the general public...

    Malfeasance vs Misfeasance... (none / 0) (#13)
    by santarita on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 02:27:52 PM EST
    I hope that Post-partisanship means that criminal prosecutions are  pursued for malfeasance and not simple misfeasance.  Or to put it another way I can see Obama not wanting to divert resources to show trials.  I'd rather see the holes that allowed these actions fixed.  On the other hand intentional flouting of the law can't be excused.  

    You mean fix the holes... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by sj on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 03:49:33 PM EST
    ... just like they were fixed after Watergate when Nixon was pardoned?  Or do you mean like they were fixed after Iran/Contra?

    Without punishment, they are all free to try it again.  I'm truly afraid that post partisanship means that no criminal prosecutions will be pursued.  We'll need to put all that behind us, right?


    It's never too late to impeach. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Fabian on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 04:36:05 PM EST
    It's a fantasy, I know.

    Plus it reminds me of Pelosi's famous words.


    The last rat (none / 0) (#16)
    by coigue on Fri Sep 26, 2008 at 03:14:51 PM EST
    has left the sinking ship