Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gonzalez: Lazy, A Liar, Or Terminally Forgetful?

Perhaps it's all three.

The Washington Post is reporting today that Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez may have been lying to Congress when he reported to the Senate on April 27, 2005 that, "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse." Mr. Gonzales was seeking renewal of the Patriot Act and was reassuring the Senate that the FBI was working within the confines of the law. The controversial act was ultimately renewed.

There's just one small problem: The Attorney General wasn't telling the truth.

Whether it was intentional or not is a matter of debate. Internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show that Mr. Gonzalez received as many as six reports documenting legal and procedural violations by the Bureau, prior to testifying. These included; unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a obtaining data from an Internet firm that it was not entitled to collect. Each report stated that administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy were violated. Justice Department spokesperson, Brian Roehrkasse maintains that, "the violations the FBI disclosed were not legal violations and instead involved procedural safeguards or even typographical errors."

Oh! It's o.k. to violate someone's civil rights so long as it's only a procedural matter or a typo. Good to know!

The question is this: Did the Attorney General lie to Congress, not bother to read the reports, or as in the case of the dismissed U.S. Attorneys, is he merely forgetful? It doesn't really matter. Whether intentional or not, Mr. Gonzalez has consistently shown a disregard for the law and an inability to recall important pieces of information directly tied to the running of his department.

It boils down to this: If he lacks the mental accuity to remember key details of Justice Department business, then he is unfit to serve. If he does not bother to read reports acknowledging violations of the very law that his department is charged with upholding, then he is unfit to serve. If he went before Congress and intentionally lied, then he is unfit to serve.

No matter what excuse the AG or his representatives present, the conclusion is the same. Mr. Gonzales is unfit to serve as Attorney General of the United States of America.

It's time for Congress to do something about it.


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