in my opinion…

Posted on Friday 31 August 2007

If you’re the author of a minor blog that you’re mostly writing to deal with how you feel about the disasterous turn your country’s political situation has taken, you’re allowed to speculate on what you think might turn things around [or anything else]. This year has been something of a "turn around" year, after six long painful years of crazy government. First we got a slightly Democratic Congress. It hasn’t been as much as we’d hoped, but compared to the previous six years, it’s been a Godsend – primarily the result of a hard charging set of Congressional investigations. This year, we’ve had Scooter Libby’s conviction. And we’ve had the biggest scandal yet, still unresolved – the U.S. Attorney firings for political reasons. The net result has been the resignations of Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, Harriet Miers, and a host of involved people at the Department of Justice – essentially everyone involved in this attempt to subvert the DOJ into the political arm of the Republican Party. Now, the Administration is desparately trying to get us to continue a very unpopular and very misguided war – and the reports on the war are going against the Administration. The essential fear at this point is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are going to start a war with Iran – against the wishes of the Congress and most Americans.

What can we do about these misguided and unprincipled megalomaniacs? For whatever reason, the thing that has gotten us the most mileage in slowing them down isn’t logic, it’s scandals – and they’ve had more than enough of those: closeted gay congressmen attacking gay rights; abject crooks like Duke Cunningham and Robert Ney; plenty of that kind of thing. In the midst of the inquiries into the peculiar goings-on at the Justice Department, a man of principle, a staunch Republican, produced a story that, in my opinion, turned the tide of the Department of Justice investigation. James Comey, the former Deputy Attorney General, calmly described a late night visit by Alberto Gonzales to the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, who was delerious in a hospital bed to try to get him to sign off on one of their shakier programs. Comey, acting for the gravely ill Ashcroft had refused. It was such a sleazy piece of work told by such an obviously principled man that it painted the Administration as the bottom feeders they actually are.

But, that little review was for a purpose. Here’s what Comey said at the beginning of his testimony:
COMEY: I’ve actually thought quite a bit over the last three years about how I would answer that question if it was ever asked, because I assumed that at some point I would have to testify about it. The one thing I’m not going to do and be very, very careful about is, because this involved a classified program, I’m not going to get anywhere near classified information. I also am very leery of, and will not, reveal the content of advice I gave as a lawyer, the deliberations I engaged in. I think it’s very important for the Department of Justice that someone who held my position not do that. 
My point is that he’d been sitting on his story for three years. He didn’t talk about what happened that night until asked under oath. When he said it, it reminded me of something else we heard a long time ago – 34 years ago:
It was a Friday afternoon in July, and the witness was just a small fry: Alexander Butterfield, who kept President Nixon’s schedule and handled his paper flow. Three staff members of the Senate Watergate Committee were questioning him, preparing for his public testimony the following Monday. Trolling, one asked whether there might be something down at the White House, some sort of recording system?

Butterfield took a breath.

"I was hoping you fellows wouldn’t ask me that," he said.1
Thus, we learned about the White House tapes, and ultimately Nixon was finally forced to resign. My point is that like Alexander Butterfield, James Comey had a story to tell, but never really told it until asked the right question. Comey didn’t like telling his story anymore that Butterfield liked telling his, but both were honest men who told the truth under oath.

George Bush and Dick Cheney have lied and conived their way through six long years. There are unquestionably any number of people in Washington D.C. who can tell their story and topple these two dangerous men. They’re not going to just be coming forward. Some, like Gonzales, would lie – or refuse to answer. But some are honest Americans who would tell the truth if asked. It’s going to take another story or two to help us get free from this tyranny. The only way to get to those stories is to continue the Congressional investigations ad nauseum, and interview everyone – asking hard questions. We know the stories are there. The devil is in finding them, and in knowing the right questions to ask. In my opinion, it’s the only way out of this nightmare – public exposure…

1 Of interest, the person who first asked Butterfield about the listening devices in the White House [though they already knew about them from the staffer’s question the day before] was none other than  Fred Thompson.  Yes, the same one who is maybe running for President – then an Assistant U.S. Attorney…
    August 31, 2007 | 11:32 PM

    Comey has been the hero of this Justice dept. mess. When he answered honestly about what had happened the night Gonzales and Card went to the hospital to try to get the gravely ill AG Ashcroft to sign off on a illegal act, he gave me hope that there would be more people who would finally come forward but have they?

    September 1, 2007 | 3:48 PM

    We just need one or two more for the dam to break. We’re so close!

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