It seems increasingly that Alberto Gonzales’s attitude towards testimony before Congress entails spreading official truths that happen to be lies. He seems indifferent to the fact that he’s sworn in before he testifies, and that federal law makes it a crime to make false statements to Congress. After all, he’s the country’s chief law enforcement officer, and that position carries with it complete immunity, right?
Here’s another Gonzales perjury incident recounted in this morning’s Washington Post:
As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.
Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated. The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.
The Gonzales remarks were not, of course, incidental banter. He appeared in response to requests that he address precisely this situation. And he consciously and coldly lied about it. Indeed, his track record of serving up whoppers to Congress is now unequalled by any modern cabinet officer. But in the Gonzales view, until the opposition can muster the 67 votes in the Senate to remove him from office, they can shove it. He serves at the kingpin’s pleasure.