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Alberto Gonzales and the Blame Game

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Dahlia Lithwick offers a brilliant analysis of Fredo’s appearance today before the House Judiciary Committee. One interchange really sums the whole thing up:

The most revealing moment, perhaps, is when Gonzales inadvertently confesses that some members of this secret cabal of senior leaders may not have even “known that they were involved in making this list.” Poor James Comey thought he was making cocktail-party conversation, when in fact Kyle Sampson was using his judgments on U.S. attorneys as ammunition against them.

Robert Wexler, D-Fla., finally loses his temper and starts hollering: “You did not select Iglesias for the list.” (No). “Did Sampson select him?” (No). “Did Comey?” (No.) “Did McNulty?” (No.) Did the president? (No.) “Did the vice president? (No).” Then Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., follows up with one of the best queries of the day: “If you don’t know who put Iglesias on the list, how do you know the president or the vice president didn’t?” Long silence. Pause. “They wouldn’t do that,” hems Gonzales. “The White House has said publicly that it was not involved in adding or deleting people from the list.” Someone needs to tell that to Kyle Sampson. And as for Gonzales, he has made himself immortal by merely willing himself to be so. That must be what accounts for his Zenlike state today. It’s an ingenious strategy. Instead of letting the president throw him under the bus to protect Karl Rove, Gonzales just lies down in the road, then giggles as the bus runs over his head.

Marty Lederman points to the absurdity of all this testimony. Remember that Gonzales has said that the list reflected the consensus view of “senior management at DOJ.” But who, exactly was that senior management?

Not Gonzales.

Not McNulty.

Not Comey.

Not Battle.

Not Moschella.

Not Margolis.

Not Sampson.

Not Goodling.

There’s the dilemma. So who is “senior management” at DOJ? The answer appears to be Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. And as to the senior management in office? Are they not but “hollow men” with “head pieces filled with straw, alas.”

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