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