Big Al and Decider George at show-and-tell.
Four years ago near to the day:
- â€œThereâ€™s a lot we donâ€™t know about his actions as White House counsel and his advice to the president,â€ said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy of the Federation of American Scientists. â€œWhat we do know is rather discouraging.â€
Discouraging was a way-understatement.
(Illustration found here).
Alberto Gonzales went on to the AG post, then got all twisted around in politics, lied, and then lied again, leading him to resign before Congress took his head.
Gonzales turned out to be the most back-biting, political-weasel ever to occupy the AG post.
And the Decider George White House did it all.
This is precise:
- So we wound up with a White House fueled by propaganda and coverup.
It happened after 9/11, when it eventually came out that he ignored a daily briefing entitles â€œBin Laden Determined to Strike Within the US.â€
It happened after Hurricane Katrina, when it quickly became clear that Brownie hadnâ€™t done a heckuva job.
It happened in the Gonzales investigation, the Valerie Plame scandal, the FISA scandal, after Dick Cheney shot some poor guy in the face, torture, corruption, on and on and on.
Bush and Cheney treated the White House as a hiding place and every move they made was treated like a state secret.
The idea of â€œexecutive privilegeâ€ was stretched to absurdity. Secret emails, secret memos, secret conversations, secret wiretaps, secret prisons with secret prisoners, etc.
Transparency was apparently a dirty word for this White House.
If you needed to know it, theyâ€™d hold a press conference.
Otherwise, you can shut the hell up and stop asking questions. What, do you think this is some sort of democracy or something?
And it’s getting worse.
And it’s still Dufus Dick.
According to Washington Monthly:
- A growing body of investigative reporting and memoirs by Bush White House insiders-turned-dissenters suggests that most of the administrationâ€™s most controversial national security decisionsâ€”on wiretapping, the Iraq War, and renditionsâ€”originated in the Office of the Vice President, hashed out by Cheney, vice presidential counsel David Addington, and aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby.
Cheneyâ€™s papers are the Amazon rain forest of Bush administration records: they are of immense importance to the big picture, and there is a real risk that they will be lost before we know exactly whatâ€™s in there.
If there is one overarching priority between now and January 20, it is to surround Cheneyâ€™s office with every possible legal barrier to removing so much as a Post-it Note from the premises.
When Obama takes the reins in January, he will inherit the same bureaucratic apparatus Bush used, and with it the records of how he used it.
This is the best opportunity for the new president to shine a light on the past eight years with the stroke of a pen.
He should direct the governmentâ€™s inspectors general to undertake exhaustive, top-to-bottom audits of the classified documents their agencies have produced under Bush, declassifying and releasing everything for which secrecy isnâ€™t of demonstrable national security interest.
One specific trove of documents is a priority: the records of the Department of Justiceâ€™s Office of Legal Counsel.
The OLC is the executive branchâ€™s legal sounding boardâ€”the president asks its staff whether something he or she wants to do is legal, and the OLC sends back an opinion explaining why or why not.
OLC lawyers are in an unusual position, halfway between attorneys and judges.
They give advice to the president, but that legal interpretation has a heft that gives government officials who follow it a degree of immunityâ€””what is effectively an advance pardon for actions taken at the edges of vague criminal laws,” Jack Goldsmith, the head of the OLC from 2003 to 2004, wrote in his 2007 book The Terror Presidency. “It is one of the most momentous and dangerous powers in the government: the power to dispense get-out-of-jail-free cards.”
Mr. President-Elect, open the books!