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Oh my goodness! Abu G lied to us on the USA firings, new documents show

Who knew??

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in a November meeting, according to documents released Friday that contradict earlier claims that he was not closely involved in the dismissals.

Well, um, we knew.

And the 5:00 Friday document dump is a little late. What's up with that?

The Nov. 27 meeting, in which the attorney general and at least five top Justice Department officials participated, focused on a five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors, Justice Department officials said late Friday.

There, Gonzales signed off on the plan

On March 13, in explaining the firings, Gonzales told reporters he was aware that some of the dismissals were being discussed but was not involved in them.

Worse, Gonzales acted like all the Bushies do: He tried to shift responsibility to an underling:

"I knew my chief of staff was involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers — where were the districts around the country where we could do better for the people in that district, and that's what I knew," Gonzales said last week. "But that is in essence what I knew about the process; was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on. That's basically what I knew as the attorney general."

[Notice that carefully crafted "as the attorney general." What did Gonzales know when he was White House counsel?]

And even AP seems to be aware of the timing:

The documents were released Friday night, a few hours after Sampson agreed to testify at a Senate inquiry next week into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year.

To think it all happened because we got subpoena power. Isn't that a beautiful thing?

Even worse, or better, Gonzales not only screwed an underling, he fucked over his deluded supporters on the Hill:

Earlier Friday, a staunch White House ally, Sen. John Cornyn (news, bio, voting record), summoned White House counsel Fred Fielding to Capitol Hill and told him he wanted "no surprises."

"I told him, 'Everything you can release, please release. We need to know what the facts are,'" Cornyn said.

[lambert hums Please release me, let me go...] Heh heh heh. I'd say this is a surprise--at least to Cornyn, who's a little slow, as we would expect.

Sampson will appear Thursday at a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, his attorney said.

E-mails between the White House and the Justice Department, dating back to the weeks immediately after the 2004 presidential election, show Sampson was heavily engaged in deciding how many prosecutors would be replaced, and which ones. The Bush administration maintains the dismissals of the eight political appointees were proper. [Can we get the "he said" in here? I'll try. "Democrats maintain that the dismissals amount to obstruction of justice and abuse of power by an out-of-control executive."]

The AP coverage consistently doesn't say whether Sampson will testify under oath, in public, and with a transcript. I'd assume so, but in the topsy-turvy world that the unilateral executive loons in Cheney's bunker have created, who knows?

UPDATE Via the awesome Josh, the answer to the question you were all asking: Yes, the Gonzales documents were from the 18-day gap.

UPDATE From the Department of Yeah, Right:

Department officials said there had not been an intentional effort to delay the release of the new material. Instead, they said, the e-mail messages were overlooked in past searches of office files and computers. Many, they said, were copies of e-mail that had already been disclosed. The latest batch of documents shows just how completely the department misjudged what the reaction would be to the dismissals.

Come on. One thing we know about the administration is famously disciplined. Not only have they told us so themselves, but the press has constantly reinforced the message. And they can't manage a simple document dump? WTF?

UPDATE Looks like somebody made a call and got AP reporter Laura Jordan to tone down her lead. The current version:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales approved plans to fire several U.S. attorneys in an hourlong meeting last fall, according to documents released Friday that that contradict earlier claims that he was not closely involved in the dismissals indicate he was more involved in the dismissals than he has claimed

I liked that "contradict." A shame it's gone...

UPDATE WaPo's Eggen does use the word. In his lead:

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales met with senior aides on Nov. 27 to review a plan to fire a group of U.S. attorneys, according to documents released last night, a disclosure that contradicts Gonzales's previous statement that he was not involved in "any discussions" about the dismissals.

And here's a tasty sample of Sampson's testimony next week:

Gonzales and other Justice Department officials have said that Sampson quit because he withheld information from other officials and Sampson's action may have led them to give misleading testimony before Congress. Sampson's attorney has disputed that characterization and has said that others in the Justice Department were fully aware of "several years" of discussions with the White House about dismissing the prosecutors.

The point is crucial because Justice officials said in previous statements and testimony that the White House was involved only tangentially, at the end of the process.

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Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Stopped to open up another tab to track down the MJS' "Slimy Toad" post to link to, which of course had to be done by hand since the damn search function still doesn't work worth a crap...slowing me down enough that you beat me to it!

[shakes Tiny Fist of Fury in northeasterly direction]

Ahem. That said, ain't it a thing of beauty? Now when they go to subpoena the servers in Chattanooga and get the rest of the emails, they'll know just what dates to look for. :)

Submitted by lambert on

Did you see this comment, BTW?

Hey, I don't understand why they can't just tell the truth on this. It makes it look like something really bad is going on, ya know?

No authoritarians were tortured in the writing of this post.

Submitted by [Please enter a... (not verified) on

Found it moderately amusing, and of course nice that he was distracted from the 47th iteration of the Wipe All program trying to clean all the RNCHQ/gwb43 links out of their servers, just to post a response to lil' ol' us.

However, I think he might want to consider the response he's going to give on the stand after the subpoenas show up, rather than worrying about making up some "nothing to see here, these are not the droids you're looking for" fluffle to us.

On the general topic of Abu Al's Magic Disappearing US Attorneys, however, please note that McClatchy has a terrific story on the "Not Strong Enough On Kicking Minority, Poor and Military Voters Off the Rolls Prosecutors", which they are lamentably wasting on a Friday night for some reason. We might want to all try dropping this link off at other sites all weekend, just to keep it bubbling along with hits.

Just Thursday Alberto Gonzales once again told us he is working tirelessly to be sure he has every American's back covered…especially our children. Should his alleged lying about the firing of U.S. Attorneys make us feel better?

I don't know about anyone else but I've always been suspicious of the guy that seems to go out of his way to tell you he's "got your back covered".

See a sarcastic visual that demonstrates how many Americans feel when the Attorney General reassures us that he's got our backs