Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Latest White House Scandal Growing

First things first. Get over to Talking Points Memo or TPMMuckraker to get the latest on what's happening with the US Attorney scandal; these guys broke the story and are the point men for the story. The major newspapers and networks are finally on to it and adding some juicy bits to the unfolding scandal.

One word is sufficient to describe this latest scandal: arrogance. The leading figures of the Bush Administration have convinced themselves that they're above the law; and they thought if they were clever enough they could get away with playing political dynamite with our system of US Attorneys. And now they're squirming and dodging and avoiding testimony before Congress; Think Progress notes the following story:
MSNBC’s Mike Viquiera: “Fred Fielding, he’s the White House counsel, he was just here meeting with the House Judiciary Committee. He made the following offer to the Congress, both House and Senate. He said Rove and Harriet Miers would be offered to the committees for their testimony in the Alberto Gonzales prosecutors scandal. However, it would be unsworn testimony, not under oath, behind closed doors, and no transcript would be permitted. Now, that is not what Congress is looking for.”

This offer is similar to the deal that was made to Bush and Cheney by the rubber stamp Congress when the Republicans were in control. During the investigation of the White House leak of CIA covert operative Valerie Plame's identity to the press, Bush and Cheney were allowed to testify behind closed doors in an informal setting about their role in the affair; to this day the American people have no idea what the president and vice president said. Since their testimony, significant evidence has come to light that Dick Cheney played a key role in the smearing of Joe Wilson. In addition, Bush supposedly gave Cheney the authority to declassify some crucial information, but that too had the smell of political convenience. There is also evidence to suggest that President Bush considered it important to protect Karl Rove from the fallout over the CIA leak. Karl Rove has no official role in national security. He is strictly a political adviser. Protecting a political adviser makes it very clear that the CIA leak was about politics at its worst; it was also about abusing national security procedure for the sake of politics.

In the last six years, Republican leaders in Congress may have felt comfortable giving Bush a free pass despite abundant evidence of his incompetence and recklessness and despite a growing number of serious ethical breaches within his administration and outright abuses of power, but the American people are increasingly restless; there have been a number of disturbing revelations and Americans want answers. It looks like, with the Democrats in control, that Congress is finally ready to demand some accountability.

US Attorneys are indeed political appointments but they have a special role in safeguarding the integrity of our government. They must be above the taint of politics. When there are those in an administration who try to rig what US Attorneys can prosecute or not, our government and our democracy is damaged. We have a problem, and once again, it is not clear that President Bush understands that he has an obligation to fix it. What we do not need is another public relations massage from the White House. We need to restore the integrity of our government. And that may be difficult given the number of lies that have been coming out of the White House.

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