Former Aide's Testimony Shows Gonzo Willing to Circumvent the Law
Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey (he held the post before the now-disgraced Paul McNulty) testified before Congress today. Comey is well-regarded in legal circles, and his tenure at DOJ is actually known for good things and not bad ones -- specifically, he was the acting-AG who refused to sign off on the warrantless wiretapping program when then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized, making him one of the few federal employees who took a strong stand against executive overreach. (More on why Comey's professionalism, high character, and effectiveness would make him an excellent candidate for AG in a better world.)
In Comey's testimony today, he described the fascinating scene surrounding the authorization of the wiretapping program -- all of the details he provides make it clear Alberto Gonzales was willing to circumvent the law in order to ram through a supposed national security necessity. Gonzo quite literally ignored the rights and responsibilities of the Department of Justice in an attempt to get what he wanted -- and roughly a year later Bush named him the head of the DOJ! The whole episode sheds light on how fundamentally wrong Gonzales' appointment was, and how shameful it is that he still has a job.
Riveting details courtesy of the Muckraker:
The events took place in March of 2004, when the [wiretapping] program was in need of renewal by the Justice Department. When then-Attorney General John Ashcroft fell ill and was hospitalized, Comey became the acting-Attorney General.
The deadline for the Justice Department's providing its sign-off of the program was March 11th (the program required reauthorization every 45 days). On that day, Comey, then the acting AG, informed the White House that he "would not certify the legality" of the program.
According to Comey, he was on his way home when he got a call from Ashcroft's wife that Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card were on their way to the hospital. Comey then rushed to the hospital (sirens blaring) to beat them there and thwart "an effort to overrule me."