Saturday, March 17, 2007
Stories Keep Shifting
More than two weeks after a New Mexico U.S. attorney alleged he was fired for not prosecuting Democrats, the White House and the Justice Department are still struggling to explain the roles of President Bush, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and other key officials in the dismissals of eight federal prosecutors last year.
Yesterday, the White House retreated from its four-day-old claim that former counsel Harriet E. Miers started the process two years ago by proposing the firing of all 93 U.S. attorneys.
"It has been described as her idea . . . but I don't want to vouch for origination," press secretary Tony Snow said. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
Snow's comments mark the latest revision of the administration's account of the firings, which has shifted repeatedly over the past week as new e-mails and other evidence have come to light in response to congressional demands for information. The precise roles of Gonzales, presidential adviser Karl Rove and the president himself remain unclear, even as calls for Gonzales's resignation continue to mount.
As far as I can tell, people in the administration have hazy memories over the purge because they haven't yet hit on what their cover story is going to be.
Senator Chuck Schumer has it right when he says:
"The story keeps changing, which neither does them or the public any good. They ought to gather all the facts and tell the public the truth."
There, I think is the rub of it. They neither want to release the facts about the purge nor tell the truth to the public.
It sure makes it seem like they're hiding something.
UPDATE: The NY Daily News reports that more Republicans have joined Senators John Sununu and Gordon Smith in calling for Attorney General Abu Gonzales' resignation:
WASHINGTON - More Republicans indicated it's time for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down yesterday, as the White House adopted the amnesia defense over whose idea it was to fire eight U.S. attorneys.
With evidence pointing toward the involvement of Bush political guru Karl Rove and Gonzales himself, Team Bush reversed course on its previous claim that it was former White House Counsel Harriet Miers' brainchild to boot the U.S. attorneys.
"It has been described as her idea, but whether it is - I don't know where - I don't want to try to vouch for origination," said Bush spokesman Tony Snow. "At this juncture, people have hazy memories."
Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) was the first Republican to say publicly that Gonzales should be fired.
Now his GOP colleagues Sens. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California also say they have lost confidence in Gonzales.
Another GOP senator, Susan Collins of Maine, said "I do not think the attorney general has served the President well."
Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Gonzales will have to answer to Congress on why he testified that the U.S. attorneys were fired because of their "performance," even though provocative e-mails and the involvement of Rove indicate that it was about politics.
"I've not joined in a call for his resignation, but when a top official in a department is inaccurate in their testimony, we're going to have a look at it," Sessions said yesterday in an interview on NPR News' "All Things Considered."
"I hope that he will be able to answer that convincingly; that there is no ethical or other malintent in misleading Congress. If he did, I think he will be out of there."
Looks like Gonzales' days are numbered. But his resignation should not be the end of the investigation. We need to know what roles Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and Preznut Bush played in this mess and we also need to know why their stories have shifted so much over the last two weeks.
In other words, we need to get to the bottom of this scandal and find out what they're hiding.