The Gonzales Rule, an Alberto Concerto in D-Minus

This delicate Bush composition for Congress, featuring soloist Alberto
Gonzales might have opened to disastrous revues, had there been
any revue. Instead, we are left with a D-minus grade earned by a
Congress impatient to get the kids up to the lake for a family vacation
before Labor Day.

This delicate Bush composition for Congress, featuring soloist Alberto
Gonzales might have opened to disastrous revues, had there been
any revue. Instead, we are left with a D-minus grade earned by a
Congress impatient to get the kids up to the lake for a family vacation
before Labor Day.
The welfare of the nation–or the kids—one has to choose. A
terrorist might have crept in under the crack under Mike Chertoff’s
door (or the gaping holes in his department of homeland insecurity) had
they waited until their September return for a more reasoned look at
Bush as national Peeping Tom. But Congress, like other Washington
institutions, likes to lay on embarrassing news late on Friday and what
later Friday is there than the day legislators go home for a month?
We regularly flay the Iraqi parliament for taking off the month of
August, only because American kids are dying while they vacate.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t give a damn. But American kids and Iraqis as
well will die while our Congress is up at the lake with the family, so
we shouldn’t be too self-satisfied. It is, arguably, our Congress and not their parliament who whacked away at Arab hornets.
Whatever, our hopelessly incompetent Attorney General has been called by his president to act—this time to expand the very same eavesdropping disaster he originally screwed up. If I hear another misguided congressman address him as ‘General Gonzales’ I will puke. Walter Pincus at the Washington Post fills us in;

Bush administration plans to leave oversight of its expanded foreign
eavesdropping program to the same government officials who supervise
the surveillance activities and to the intelligence personnel who carry
them out, senior government officials said yesterday.

The law,
which permits intercepting Americans’ calls and e-mails without a
warrant if the communications involve overseas transmission, gives
Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell and Attorney General
Alberto R. Gonzales responsibility for creating the broad procedures
determining whose telephone calls and e-mails are collected. It also
gives McConnell and Gonzales the role of assessing compliance with
those procedures.

No oversight—the bi-monthly audits by the Justice Department’s inspector general that were originally
in the bill, got excised by (no doubt) David Addington, Dick Cheney’s
personal legal snake. When will these elected representatives of ours
learn that this is not a trustworthy administration to exempt from oversight.
Oversight is pretty much the Congress’s only job. They have decided
to take the one responsibility they have—the one they ignored for six
years to the nation’s extreme displeasure—and ignore it once again. Anyone who thought Democrats would save us better grab for another lifeboat or any floating scrap of wood that passes by.

the new law, the attorney general is required to draw up the governing
procedures for surveillance activity, for approval by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court, which supervises the warrantless
collection of eavesdropping inside the United States when it involves
foreign intelligence.

The man who can’t
remember, recall or understand anything that he may or may not have
done since becoming Attorney General (as he said repeatedly under oath
before Congress) is going to draw up governing procedures. This is the guy who okayed the abu-Ghraib interrogation procedures.

the procedures are established, the attorney general and director of
national intelligence will formally certify that the collection of data
is authorized — a determination based on affidavits from intelligence
officials. But the certification will be placed under seal “unless the
certification is necessary to determine the legality of the
acquisition,” according to the law signed by Bush.

Alberto ‘abu-Ghraib’ Gonzales not only draws up, but certifies, authorizes and puts it all in Dick Cheney’s safe, under seal. Unless his own work has a legality problem, in which case he will be
the sole arbiter of what is and is not legal. Catchy, huh? Clinton and
Obama voted against it and then ran for Iowa where something more
important to them is currently going on.

It is
left to the director of national intelligence and the attorney general
to “assess compliance with such procedures” and report their
assessments to the House and Senate intelligence panels, the statute

Finally, even the Inspector General of the Attorney General’s Office is
cut out of the bargain. No more messy and embarrassing dragging
Gonzales before a pissed-off Congress; the man rules himself; incompetence has, after six shaky years, been declared victor over intelligence and law.
The genius of the coup is that it has been done in the name of intelligence and law.

is also required to provide semiannual reports to the House and Senate
intelligence and Judiciary committees, which are to include any
accounts of abuse or noncompliance that Justice and intelligence
officials discover in their internal reviews.

If he can remember any.
And you babbling incompetents who represent us in Washington, those
of you who keep telling us just how much you plan to change the
divisiveness and partisanship of the Washington scene, where are you
when a divisive and partisan stand is actually called for? Up at the
lake? Hustling votes at the county weenie-roast? Off in Iowa?
Iraqi Parliament or American Congress, dereliction is in the eye of the beholder.
Media comment;

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