Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bush Administration Pushes Accountability— Not

Campaigning for president against Al Gore in 2000, George W. Bush made a point of stressing "accountability." Unlike the corrupt and double-dealing Clinton-Gore Administration, Bush declared, members of his administration would be accountable. In a Bush Administration, he would hold individuals fully responsible for their actions.

Despite the lofty rhetoric, the last seven-plus years have demonstrated that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Gonzales and a host of other Bush loyalists and hangers-on have not been held responsible for their actions, at least not officially. Bush has sacked some of them, to be sure, but legal, ethical and/or moral violations and abuses have been elided or ignored wherever possible.

Today's New York Times story makes the case once again:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Tuesday rejected the idea of criminally prosecuting former Justice Department employees who improperly used political litmus tests in hiring decisions, saying he had already taken strong internal steps in response to a “painful” episode.

So much for the Bush team's accountability. They forgot about it years ago. If we're lucky, maybe the Republicans will pay for their sins in 2008.


Tulsan said...

"...maybe the Republicans will pay for their sins in 2008."

And 2009, 10, 11, and so on, I hope.

I'd love to see Obama install a pit bull as Attorney General (how about Hillary?) then turn 'em loose on the miscreants Bush, Cheney, Libby, etc.

Dan Paden said...

Tulsan, yer dreamin'. Were I a gamblin' man, I'd give ya 3 to 1 odds that Obama will see the White House only as a tourist.

Not to make myself out to be too dense, but my understanding is that those hiring decisions involved personnel that serve, as they say, at the pleasure of the President, and that there is no criminal offense involved in hiring or firing them for any reason whatever. I haven't looked deeply into it, but if there wasn't a criminal statute violated, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would be upset that the AG isn't going to file criminal charges.

Like I say, I haven't looked deeply into it. Perhaps you could enlighten me as to what criminal statute was violated.

Tulsan said...

I see you are holding the phrase "at the pleasure of the President" at arm's length as if it were a smelly tube sock. I feel the same way. It gives me the creeps every time the corporate media repeated it (and why do they do it?)

I don't know from the hiring and firing of personnel; I do know that a bunch of them deserve to be in jail.

Bush commuted "Scooter" Libby's sentence for lying and obstructing the investigation into the deliberate leak of a CIA agent's identity.

The leak was done in retaliation for the agent's husband accusing the administration of doctoring prewar intelligence on Iraq, which they clearly did. Libby was Cheney's right hand. Do you suppose Cheney was unaware of what his minion was up to?

Bush has racked up numerous impeachable offenses. He plainly broke several laws, including the FISA law on wiretaps and the Federal Torture Act. He deliberately misled America and Congress about the threat from Iraq on numerous occasions.

If you can impeach a President for getting a blowjob and lying about it, you sure as hell should impeach W. for these offenses, and they are only a few of the "high" points.

Dan Paden said...

Hmmm. I don't pretend to know everything, but a couple of things have always made me wonder:

Since Valerie Plame was not a covert agent, leaking her name was not a criminal offense in the first place; quite early on in the investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald knew that the leaker was Richard Armitage, against whom no charges have ever been brought--like I say, it wasn't a criminal offense in the first place;it has always struck me as very weird that Mr. Libby would bother trying to cover up a crime that no one committed, or that Mr. Fitzgerald would continue his investigating long past the point where the nature of the whole business was known. The whole thing seems pointless and more than a little surreal.

But in any event, my question had nothing to do with any of those things. It was what criminal offense had been committed in the referred-to hiring and firing decisions that provokes outrage at the lack of criminal prosecutions. I may well be ignorant of relevant criminal statutes, but on the other hand, if none were violated, it seems picayune to complain that no charges will be forthcoming in those cases.

Tulsan said...

Sorry, I did get off track.

Even the Dept. of Justice's report concluded:

"In sum, the evidence showed that Sampson, Williams, and Goodling violated federal law and Department policy, and Sampson and
Goodling committed misconduct, by considering political and ideological affiliations in soliciting and selecting IJs, which are career positions protected by the civil service laws."

This is from the DOJ report (PDF file.)

It would be naive to believe that they did what they did without the assent of Gonzales, which, since his testimony showed him to be a total idiot, points higher in the Administration.

The fish stinks from the head down, and this is one stinky fish.

How does this approach hurt the DOJ aside from those pesky legal consideration? Again, from the report:

"Goodling’s use of political considerations in connection with these details was particularly
damaging to the Department because it resulted in high-quality candidates for important details being rejected in favor of less-qualified candidates. For example, an experienced career terrorism prosecutor was rejected by Goodling for a detail to EOUSA to work on counterterrorism issues because of his wife’s political affiliations. Instead, EOUSA had to select a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who EOUSA officials believed was not qualified for the position."

This question posed by Goodling to a candidate makes me want to puke: "What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?"

The GOP has taken quite a shine to the Soviet style of governing. Out with them!

Tulsan said...

P.S. re Plame:

From "Hardball" transcript 5/1/2006, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster:


So, you see no problem with this? Aside from the reckless and arrogant use of the outing for purely political revenge?

Dan Paden said...

Tulsan, I often have the impression that you're not actually arguing with me; it's like you're carrying arguments you've had with someone else over into your interactions with me here. For instance, I'm not at all sure that anything I said could be reasonably construed as "I see no problem with..."


I do stand corrected on the point of whether or not Valerie Plame was covert at the time of the Armitage leak. Wikipedia says:...official legal documents published in the course of the CIA leak grand jury investigation, United States v. Libby, and Congressional investigations fully establish her classified employment as a covert officer for the CIA at the time that Novak's column was published in July 2003., which I will take as accurate until someone shows me otherwise. On the other hand, the same article notes:

Columnist Robert Novak revealed that former Deputy Secretary of State, and Bush administration's internal Iraq war critic, Richard Armitage was the source of "the leak" about Plame's status. Neither Armitage nor anyone else has been charged with revealing Plame's CIA cover status. which is what I had already understood, and it is that which gives the whole affair, as I said, the appearance of being pointless and surreal. That is, if the investigation was about a crime, it seems very strange that the one person who did leak Ms. Plame's identity to Robert Novak has not been charged.

It seems to me, in short, that purely political revenge is hardly limited to one side of the political aisle.

I'm afraid I did not take a long look at the PDF document. I have dial-up, and 146 pages takes a long time to load. It may very well be that that document cites a specific statute that was violated; that is what I am interested in, in this case.

Tulsan, as I said, I often have the impression that you are arguing with someone else, a Bush administration apologist or something. I am nothing of the sort; if you want to know more about what my political leanings are, the Wikipedia article on Paleoconservatism is as good a place as any to start. I have a few differences with the Paleocons, but on the whole, I agree with them far more than I do Bush's Neocon cabal.

I fully agree that the Republican Party is packed as full of unrepentant scoundrels as it could possibly be; where we part company, I suppose, is in my belief that not only are Democrats just as scurrilous (I have long held the opinion that only scurvy dogs get into politics in the first place, at least for the most part), but that they top off their scurrilousness with core convictions that fly in the face of history and human nature.

Tulsan said...

For justice to truly be served in the Plame case, Armitage, Novak, Cheney, Libby and Rove should all be in the hoosegow. And Bush should at least be sweating profusely.

But Fitzgerald was able to work only within the realm of the politically possible. The conviction of Libby on charges of lying and obstructing the investigation is analogous to nailing a high-up henchman of Al Capone's on income tax evasion, if Al had had numerous and well-placed minions at the highest levels.

Even if we assume that the Democrats have a scurrilosity potential equal to that of the GOP on an individual basis, the GOP has fully realized and organized theirs, whereas the Democrats, being who they are, could not become so cohesive. That for me is a sufficient reason to vote Democratic.

Here's a view of the DOJ doc as html

You seemed to be saying that if leaking Plame identity were not illegal, then any further action was pointless. Since you now agree that there was illegality involved, do you approve of the prosecution, or is the deliberate blowing of her cover for political revenge a mere trifle?

Supposing Hillary had done the same, how would you react? You would blow it off? I doubt it.

Dan Paden said...

...Since you now agree that there was illegality involved, do you approve of the prosecution, or is the deliberate blowing of her cover for political revenge a mere trifle?

Hmm. I thought I was clear, but apparently I wasn't. Let me try putting it this way: the decision not to charge Richard Armitage, the man who actually did the leaking, nor anyone else, with blowing Ms. Plame's cover, rested with Mr. Fitzgerald. He did not charge anyone, despite the illegality of such actions. I therefore conclude that he has treated the original leak, the original crime, as a trifle--and pursued, as a matter of political revenge, someone higher up in the Bush administration.

...the GOP has fully realized and organized theirs, whereas the Democrats, being who they are, could not become so cohesive.

I had to laugh. My assessment of the Republicans' organizational cohesiveness is similar to your assessment of Democrats'.

Tulsan said...

Yes, Armitage (State Dept.) only "slipped up" when he told Novak too much about "Wilson's wife." Three weeks earlier, he had accidentally on purpose told Bob Woodward the same thing.

He seemed pretty anxious to get that tidbit out there. However, his motive was was CYA for the State Dept. who hadn't been on board with Bush charging into Iraq.

Once Joe Wilson's article came out and stirred up a stink...

(from David Corn's 8/27/06 article at http://www.thenation.com/blogs/capitalgames?pid=116511:

"That meant that the State Department had good reason (political reason, that is) to distance itself from Wilson, a former State Department official. Armitage may well have referred to Wilson's wife and her CIA connection to make the point that State officials--already suspected by the White House of not being team players--had nothing to do with Wilson and his trip.

"Whether he had purposefully mentioned this information to Novak or had slipped up, Armitage got the ball rolling--and abetted a White House campaign under way to undermine Wilson. At the time, top White House aides--including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby--were trying to do in Wilson. And they saw his wife's position at the CIA as a piece of ammunition. As John Dickerson wrote in Slate, senior White House aides that week were encouraging him to investigate who had sent Joe Wilson on his trip. They did not tell him they believed Wilson's wife had been involved. But they clearly were trying to push him toward that information."

Armitage, by all accounts, was extremely cooperative with the Fitzgerald investigation, as was Novak. As we know from the Martha Stewart case, investigators are inclined to treat lying and coverups harshly, regardless of the severity of the initial impetus of the case (Stewart's conviction was over an amount of about $35,000, hardly enough to justify a multi-billionaire like her bending over to pick it up off the ground.)

So, I'll revise my personal preferences and say that Armitage and Novak should be just be caned. The White House crew (Rove, Cheney and Libby) should be caned then jailed. Bush should be caned then impeached for the totality of his actions in the White House.

Tulsan said...

(Novak and Armitage could plausibly deny knowledge of Plame's CIA status, But as traditionalists say, spare the rod and...)