(Image via Twolf1. Alternate image via Cozumel: Texas Toast, the continuing saga…)
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is set to testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Testimony will begin at 9:30 am ET — and will be covered live on C-Span3. I’ll try to liveblog to the best of my ability this morning as the hearing moves forward — but that requires a little cooperation from all of you. Please — think before you comment.
Every time I have to start a new thread, it puts me further behind in liveblogging. And the more comments we get, the more times I have to start new threads. Be kind to the servers — and be judicious with comments. Thanks.
Back in session after the break.
SEN. LEAHY: Vote on the Senate floor won’t be until later. Trying to work around the committee schedule and the vote schedule to continue.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE: Talking again about the Ashcroft hospital visit. It is your testimony under oath that AG Ashcroft was read into and authorized the program at issue for two years prior to your hospital visit? Gonzales says he wants “to be very careful here because it’s fairly complicated…” [CHS notes: in other words, not quite…] Gonzales says that Ashcroft had authorized these activities, the facts are complicated, we had discussions in the intel committees about this issue, all the lawyers worked very hard to find a way forward on this issue…these had been authorized by AG Ashcroft. Whitehouse says he’s trying to nail that one point down — AG Gonzales says he isn’t sure that he can answer the question.
LEAHY: Why not just be fair to the truth and answer the question?
WHITEHOUSE: Ashcroft was read into these activities and did approve them fromt he very beginning, “I beleive from the very beginning, but again, I want to be very fair to General Ashcroft…but I can’t get into details here, quite frankly.” Was this program ever run without the approval of the AG? “We believe that we had the approval of the AG for these particular activities.” Would that be reflected in any document? yes, it would. Whitehouse says they will pursue that document. When you went ot visit Ashcroft, what document did you have in your hand? A reauthorization of the NSA program — would be a WH document so would be covered under records act. Do you consider FBI Dir. Mueller to be a reasonable man? Why would he order FBI agents not to throw Comey out of the room — not to leave Card and Gonzales alone with Ashcroft? Gonzales says that he isn’t certain that Meuller knew about the Gang of Eight meeting [CHS notes: as though that matters in terms of trying to take advantage of a sedated and medicated man in the ICU] Is it awkward to supervise the FBI after this piece of information has come out? Gonzales says that he can’t speak to the Director’s feelings about Gonzales, but that he still has a good deal of respect for Mueller.
Would you allow the DOJ to be supervised by the WH? Is there any situation where the WH would be allowed to direct litigation by the DOJ in which the WH is a party? Gonzales says no. “No transcript, closed door interviews, no oath, npo further inquiry” — would that be okay for you in any matter that the DOJ would be subjected to those restrictions? Gonzales says anything is possible. Whitehouse is clearly skeptical.
SEN. SESSIONS QUESTIONS: Your changes in the civil rights division are controversial — and your lack of knowledge of who changed such important policies as voter fraud policies and voting rights section is troubling. Gonzales says that the DAG does that. Sessions asks if that is delegated — says that it should be the AG’s responsibility. Sessions then gets into immigration issues and enforcement. Then goes on to cite Michelle Malkin as an authoritative source on the matter. [CHS notes: Oooh, excellent staff research. /snark] blah blah blah scary illegal immigrants blah blah blah. Now on to disparity between crack cocaine versus powder cocaine sentencing guidelines — Sessions says that he thinks it is time to review that and Leahy agrees.
SEN. SCHUMER QUESTIONS: First, I take it that there was just one program that the President confirmed in 2005 — not more that one? Gonzales says yes, just one. Puts upa chart detailing prior Gonzales testimony. [CHS notes: taking a stylistic tip from the Meet the Press gotcha quotes, I see…] You said “no dissent from DOJ officials.” Now, of course, we know from Jim Comey that almost the entire leadership of the Justice Department was prepared to resign over this program. What was this program? The very one that you said on which there was no dissent. Please help us understand how you did not mislead the committee. You just admitted to me that there was only one program. You said there was no dissent. But there was. Your June 5th statement confirms that what Comey was testifying about was the very program about which there was no dissent. Gonzales says that he stand by what he said to the committee.
You constantly make statements that are clear on their face that you are deceiving the committee and then you say that you go back and correct the record several days later. It is clear that you publicly told the committee something that was not true. Gonzales: Mmmmm hmmm. [CHS notes: Is the dismissive “mmmm hmmm” a DOJ political tic?]
LEAHY is asking for a review of the transcripts — if there is a discrepancy in sworn testimony, then we will look at who is telling the truth and who is not.
SEN. DURBIN QUESTIONS: Takes the AG to task for torture issues. Talks about the recent executive order which brings conduct back to what McCain’s anti-torture amendment attempted to pull back. Does common article 3 of the Geneva Convention apply to detainees? Gonzales says that he’s confident that it applies to al qaeda because the Supreme Court only smacked them down about al qaeda detentions in a current case. [CHS notes: And said executive order still was worded rather vaguely and left loopholes large enough to drive a waterboard through…]
Am going to have to start a fresh thread because the comment load is getting too high…