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Responding to pressure from the press for answers to the accusation that President Bush was personally responsible for the late night visit by Gonzales and Card to Attorney General Ashcroft’s sickbed, White House press secretary Tony Fratto has replied with attacks on Deputy Attorney General James Comey:
Q. Let me just follow up on that. Yesterday, Kelly asked the President straight up about the report of when Gonzales was counsel and sending Andy Card down to the hospital. The President refused to answer, saying it was a national security issue. No part of her question had anything to do with national security issues.
MR. FRATTO: No, there are two points there. One is the discussion of classified programs; and the second is deliberative discussions among and between advisors to the President — and neither of which is an open window for us to look into and talk about. Now, I think the President — I think that’s the point that the President was making. It puts us in a difficult communications position, because we understand there are questions out there and it’s difficult for us from the podium. But that’s not something that we can get into, and we’re not going to get into . . .
Q How does it jeopardize the safety and security of Americans, to say whether –
MR. FRATTO: Any time we talk about –
Q — to say whether he ordered those guys to go to the hotel room?
MR. FRATTO: The hospital room –
Q I’m sorry, hospital room.
MR. FRATTO: — according to the reports.
Q — former acting Attorney General . . .
Q — in relation to some unnamed, unspecified program, these two White House aides sought out the Attorney General — who was ill and had passed his powers over to his acting — sought him out instead of going to the Attorney General. Do you guys deny that took place?
MR. FRATTO: Let me say very clearly: I am not addressing any particular report, okay. But I will say that ultimate authority rests with the President of the United States.
This reflects a now typical White House maneuver: invoke national security concerns to cut off discussion of anything that might prove embarrassing to you. Accuse those who raise the issue of violating national security concerns in order to cast an aura of inappropriate conduct about them.
It’s doubly ironic here. There clearly was nothing wrong with Comey testifying, under a Congressional subpoena, as to the nighttime visit that Gonzales and Card paid to Ashcroft to coerce his signature on an illegal surveillance scheme. On the other hand, Card’s and Gonzales’s conduct was illegal on several fronts – both as further steps in a conspiracy to implement an unlawful surveillance regime, and, as Time magazine has noted, in their public discussion with Ashcroft of highly compartmentalized national security information relating to signals intelligence – which violated national security guidelines. As usual, the law is made to stand on its head and the irony of the situation seems lost on most of the audience.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
In Havana, the past year has been marked by a parade of bold-faced names from the north — John Kerry reopening the United States Embassy; Andrew Cuomo bringing a delegation of American business leaders; celebrities ranging from Joe Torre, traveling on behalf of Major League Baseball to oversee an exhibition game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team, to Jimmy Buffett, said to be considering opening one of his Margaritaville restaurants there. All this culminated with a three-day trip in March by Barack Obama, the first American president to visit Cuba since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. But to those who know the city well, perhaps nothing said as much about the transformation of political relations between the United States and Cuba that began in December 2014 as a concert in the Tribuna Antiimperialista.
Chances that a Republican man believes that “poor people have hard lives”:
A school in South Korea was planning to deploy a robot to protect students from unwanted seductions.
Nuremberg’s Neues Museum filed a criminal complaint against a 91-year-old woman who completed a crossword puzzle that was in fact a $116,000 piece of avant-garde Danish art.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”