Alberto Gonzales

"That damned spotted owl. It haunts us to this day."

Thanks to Sadly, No! and their commentator, J--, for pointing this out.

The Office of Professional Conduct (OPC) has published its final report on the interviewing techniques of Monica Goodling during her tenure at the US Department of Justice.

It is worth a read because it is full of scathing evidence and a conclusion that cannot possibly be misread:

[Page 125] The evidence demonstrated that Goodling violated Department policy and federal law, and committed misconduct, by considering political or ideological affiliations in the appointment of IJs and BIA members. Goodling admitted in her congressional testimony that she “took political considerations into account” in IJ and BIA hiring. She stated that Sampson had told her that IJ hiring was not subject to civil service laws, and that she “assumed” those laws did not apply to BIA member hiring. The evidence showed that she used political considerations in assessing candidates for both IJ and BIA positions.

That's an important distinction. It means that Monica Goodling asked the same political screening questions of both political appointees (which is legal) and DOJ candidates for employment (which is not). Many of the candidates for career positions screened by Goodling included IJ applicants - Immigration Judges. Ms. Goodling was not a decision maker in the hiring process. But she was a key interviewer, and made recommendations on who to hire and who to reject. You might think that the political screening questions would be subtle. But thankfully, they were quite blunt. Take a look at this key excerpt from pages 17-19 (emphasis mine):

As White House Liaison, Goodling’s primary responsibility was to screen candidates for political positions. Based on our witness interviews and review of documents, and the results of our survey, we found that most of the people Goodling screened or interviewed had applied for political positions. However, Goodling also assessed candidates for various types of career positions, including candidates for AUSA positions requested by interim U.S. Attorneys, career attorneys applying for details to Department offices, and candidates for IJ and BIA positions. We also found that Goodling interviewed many candidates who were interested in obtaining any position in the Department, whether career or political.

Our investigation demonstrated that Goodling sometimes used for career applicants the same political screening techniques she employed in considering applicants for political positions. In addition, she used for candidates who were interested in any position, whether career or political, the same political screening she used for applicants who applied solely for political positions, and some of these candidates were placed in career positions.

In the sections that follow, we describe the process Goodling used as White House Liaison to screen candidates for political positions within the Department. We note where applicable the evidence that she used similar techniques in assessing candidates for career positions. As detailed in this chapter, Goodling used a variety of methods to screen candidates, including interview questions, Internet searches, employment forms, and reference checks.

I. Interview Questions

According to witnesses we interviewed and documents we reviewed, Goodling regularly asked interview questions designed to determine how politically conservative the candidates were. We interviewed Angela Williamson, who was the Department’s Deputy White House Liaison and reported to Goodling during most of Goodling’s tenure as White House Liaison. Williamson attended numerous interviews conducted by Goodling and told us that Goodling asked the same questions “all the time” and tried to ask the same questions of all candidates. Williamson said she became so familiar with the questions, Goodling occasionally allowed her to conduct portions of interviews or entire interviews on her own.

After Goodling resigned, Williamson typed from memory the list of questions Goodling asked as a guide for future interviews. Among other questions, the list included the following:

  • Tell us about your political philosophy. There are different
    groups of conservatives, by way of example: Social
    Conservative, Fiscal Conservative, Law & Order Republican.

  • [W]hat is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to
    serve him?

  • Aside from the President, give us an example of someone
    currently or recently in public service who you admire.
  • We found that this last question often took the form of asking the candidate to identify his or her most admired President, Supreme Court Justice, or legislator. Some candidates were asked to identify a person for all three categories. Williamson told us that sometimes Goodling asked candidates: “Why are you a Republican?”

    Several candidates interviewed by Goodling told us they believed that her question about identifying their favorite Supreme Court Justice, President, or legislator was an attempt to determine the candidates’ political beliefs. For example, one candidate reported that after he stated he admired Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Goodling “frowned” and commented, “but she’s pro-choice.” Another candidate commented that when Goodling asked him to name his favorite judge, it seemed to him that she was trying to “get at my political views.”

    Williamson said that she and Goodling took notes during candidate interviews, which were maintained in folders for the candidates. We also found that many of Goodling’s and Williamson’s interview notes reflected that the topics of abortion and gay marriage were discussed during interviews. It appeared that these topics were discussed as a result of the question seeking information about how the applicant would characterize the type of conservative they were. We received information from our survey that 34 persons interviewed by Goodling or Williamson said they discussed abortion, and 21 said they discussed gay marriage.

    And how did Goodling research candidates and filter out the suspected liberals from the 'good Bushies'? She used the most powerful media search tool on the planet - Lexis/Nexis. Any candidate who went near specific topics in print or online news media would presumably be disqualified. Another key excerpt:

    We found that Goodling’s Internet research on candidates for Department positions was extensive and designed to obtain their political and ideological affiliations. We determined that while working in the OAG, Goodling conducted computer searches on candidates for career as well as political Department positions. Goodling used an Internet search string in her hiring research that she had received from Jan Williams, her predecessor as the Department’s White House Liaison. At some time during the year Williams served as White House Liaison, she had attended a seminar at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and received a document entitled “The Thorough Process of Investigation.”

    The document described methods for screening candidates for political positions and recommended using and to find information about contributions to political candidates and parties. The document also explained how to find voter registration information. In addition, the document explained how to conduct searches on, and included an example of a search string that contained political terms such as “republican,” “Bush or Cheney,” “Karl Rove,” “Howard Dean,” “democrat!,” “liberal,” “abortion or pro-choice,” as well as generic terms such as “arrest!” and “bankrupt!”

    When Williams left the Department in April 2006, she sent an email to Goodling containing an Internet search string and explained: “This is the lexis nexis search string that I use for AG appointments.”

    The string reads as follows:

    [First name of a candidate]! and pre/2 [last name of a candidate] w/7 bush or gore or republican! or democrat! or charg! or accus! or criticiz! or blam! or defend! or iran contra or clinton or spotted owl or florida recount or sex! or controvers! or racis! or fraud! or investigat! or bankrupt! or layoff! or downsiz! or PNTR or NAFTA or outsourc! or indict! or enron or kerry or iraq or wmd! or arrest! or intox! or fired or sex! or racis! or intox! or slur! or arrest! or fired or controvers! or abortion! or gay! or homosexual! or gun! or firearm!

    In addition, Williams provided to Goodling the White House document described above entitled, “The Thorough Process of Investigation.”

    The Spotted Owl. The damned Spotted Owl. It haunts us to this day. Those Bushies know what we like. There is no escape from the Goodling Lexis/Nexis search string.

    Feinstein vs. Gonzales: The Full Clip

    Reposted from Politics TV. In the now-infamous July 24th hearing, Feinstein tries to get to the very bottom of the USA terminations. Who put the USAs on the list and how many firings did Gonzales approve?

    This was so infuriating, I almost expected Feinstein to drop an F-bomb when Gonzo laid-out examples of possible misconduct and then admitted that none of the terminated USAs were terminated for such examples. I myself would have said, "fuck you," gotten-up, and stormed out. Fuck that. Would you agree? Try not to curse.

    Gonzales Cannot Be Fired

    So he must be removed for lying to Congress. We have found the Administration's defensive wall. Take down Gonzales and we can discover the other scandals and violations of the constitution that are going on in the White House.

    And speaking of Whitehouse, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island rocks. We don't see much of him here, but he has pretty much researched and has proven the solid, unprecedented political links between the White House (Cheney's office and Rove's office) and the DOJ. Ted Kennedy is becoming more and more silent by the month. He has lost his teeth, it seems. So Whitehouse, Feingold, and now Schumer have to take-up the slack. Chuck also rocked on Tuesday.

    Thanks to TPM Muckracker for posting these video clips.

    Highlight Reel:

    His dangerous exchange with Schumer. If he goes down for perjury, it will be for this clip: Retires The Alberto Gonzales Retirement Watch

    He's there to stay through December 2008. Fine. Morale at the DOJ didn't really matter to me anyway. Not personally.

    And who cares if defense attorneys are now using the USA termination scandal as grounds for appeal against guilty verdicts? So justice will be derailed here and there. We were warned about this happening. Whatever.

    We thought we had him. In the pre-Bush world, he would have been roadkill. But this is not that world anymore.

    John Walker Lindh Sent to Supermax in Colorado

    This is old news, but it is worth posting. I will always be puzzled and angry that John Walker Lindh was imprisoned for 20 years for being foolish and reckless enough to engage in the Afghan civil war. Note that at no point was he involved with al Qaeda. He thought he was helping the Taliban fight the rival Northern Alliance for control of Afghanistan. Now engaging in a civil war aside, simply living with the Taliban was risky and stupid, but as far as I know, it did not violate US treaties or laws when he moved there. In fact the US was sending the Taliban modest amounts of aid. I think the Feds would have had a stronger case against Lindh had he been found living in Cuba. Again, living with the Taliban does not make him an al Qaeda supporter. I loved it how the Administration blended al Qaeda and the Taliban together in the weeks following 9/11. We now know that the Taliban were not protecting bin Laden at the time the President demanded that the Taliban hand him over. They gave him a safe haven, sure, and for that they are accomplices in 9/11. But that does not make John Walker Lindh an accomplice in the largest terrorist attack ever.

    And most important, when he was captured (and miraculously spared by the Northern Alliance), he was held in a basement of a makeshift prison building with dead bodies, while American CIA agent, Mike Spann was killed in an armed prisoner uprising. Lindh was questioned by Spann hours earlier, but the argument that Lindh had knowledge of a pending firefight is pure nonsense. The Feds never charged Lindh with conspiracy to kill Agent Spann, no matter how much his family wanted vengeance.

    An interesting fact, however: The USA (US Attorney) who prosecuted Lindh, was Paul J. McNulty, the former Deputy Attorney General, who was involved in the termination of eight USAs uder Alberto Gonzales last year. We haven't heard the last from McNulty in that matter.

    Ted Rall wrote a wonderful essay on John Walker Lindh's plea deal back in July 2002. It is more relevant now that we know that a similar westerner, the 'Australian Taliban', David Hicks, will soon be released after being convicted for essentially the same crime as Lindh. Ted asks the same questions that have been bugging me for five years. Why didn't Lindh fight the charges? Why didn't he sue the US government for being tortured? Sure an American jury might have come down hard on him, but the Federal case against him was very weak. Ans weak cases need to be shot down. Of course that is easy for me to say.

    Ted Rall's essay from 2002:

    The Railroading of John Walker Lindh
    By Ted Rall

    NEW YORK-On July 15, American Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh plead guilty to two reduced charges: fighting for the Taliban and carrying explosives (hand grenades). In October, a federal judge is expected to sentence him to 20 years in prison, which could be reduced to 17 years with good behavior.

    What was the man the media dubbed "Taliboy" thinking?

    Lindh, 21, had also been charged with involvement in the murder of Johnny Michael Spann, a CIA agent killed in the November 25 Taliban POW uprising in Mazar-e-Sharif. Prosecutors dropped eight counts, including three felonies, in exchange for the right to consider him an "enemy combatant" for the rest of his life, a promise to tell investigators everything he knows about the Taliban and Lindh's pledge not to discuss his treatment at the hands of American soldiers (more on this later).

    "Twenty years is a period of time almost as long as he's been alive. It's a major sentence," noted U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty. That's undeniable. Compare it to these recent sentences handed down by American courts:

    · Four years in prison for second-degree murder in the case of a San Francisco white supremacist whose 110-pound attack dogs, despite warnings that the beasts were dangerous, mauled her neighbor to death. With credit for good behavior and time served, she could be released in 14 months.

    · Three years, four months for a Florida man who, while blind drunk, accidentally shot his best friend to death, supposedly while reenacting a scene in a film. The judge reduced the sentence from the usual nine years because of the defendant's statements of remorse and clean record.

    · Ten years for a former USA Boxing head/U.S. Olympic Committee member, age 62, convicted in Oregon of four counts of criminal sex abuse against children, including an 8-year-old.
    And that's just American jurisprudence. My favorite recent instance of wimp-out international justice went down in Germany on July 5. Former SS Major Friedrich Engel, 93, had been convicted of the 1944 mass murder of 59 Italian POWs in Genoa. Although a lower court sentenced the ex-Nazi to seven years in prison, the Hamburg State Court decided to let him walk away a free man because of his age.

    Now let's consider the case of John Walker Lindh, who so far as we know killed no one yet got 20 years-and that with a plea bargain! "I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to November," he said as part of the plea arrangement. "During the course of doing so I carried a rifle and two grenades." Technically, this was a crime; President Clinton had signed a little-known 1999 executive order linking the Taliban to Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization. However, both Clinton and George W. Bush violated such executive orders themselves by dealing with the Taliban-and by providing them with financing and arms in attempts to bribe their way to an oil pipeline deal and reduce heroin production. So why aren't those two criminals chanting morning prayers in Guantánamo? Shouldn't they have to cut a deal too?

    Prosecutors never disputed Lindh's assertion that he never even fired his rifle, much less fought against American troops. In effect, Lindh was charged with sympathies-stupid, incomprehensible, wannabe sympathies that became politically inconvenient after the U.S. began bombing the Taliban in October.

    Lindh didn't go to Afghanistan to fight the United States-an act that would have made him a traitor had war ever been declared. He joined one side in the Afghan civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. During that conflict, from 1996 to 2001, the U.S. assiduously avoided favoring one side over another.

    At Mazar he was captured by the Northern Alliance, not the U.S. The fact that CIA agent Spann traveled with Alliance forces and interrogated prisoners doesn't change that reality, and the government offered no evidence that Lindh attacked or offered resistance to U.S. personnel. The United States never declared war against the Taliban-therefore, there was no legal basis for charges against Lindh.

    Lindh, on the other hand, could easily have sued the American military for torture and hideous violations of the Geneva Conventions. "A courtroom battle could have been embarrassing for the government," reported David Johnston of The New York Times on July 16. "Mr. Lindh's lawyers planned to present evidence of how after his capture Mr. Lindh was not given adequate medical care and was denied access to a lawyer when he made admissions about his activities with the Taliban. One person involved in the negotiations that led to the plea bargain said that the government wanted a quick resolution before evidence surfaced of Mr. Lindh's treatment."

    Lindh, shot in the leg during the retaking of the Kala Jangi fortress on December 1, was turned over to U.S. forces at Camp Rhino near Kandahar. He was stripped nude and handcuffed, his bare skin covered with duct tape to fasten him to a stretcher, and thrown into a metal shipping container in the desert along with other captured Talibs, some of whom died from similar abuse. For the next two or three days, his wounds went untreated and he received minimal food and water. He was denied access to his lawyer. American Marines wrote "shithead" in big block letters across his duct-tape blindfold, kicked and punched their helpless prisoner. They even posed for souvenir photos next to him while they threatened to murder him.

    Those "soldiers," whose ethics lean closer those of the sadistic Sturmbannführer Engel those of the vast majority of Americans, ought to be the ones looking at 20 years in prison. Lindh didn't shoot anyone. He never shot at anyone. So why is he facing a longer prison term than a typical child molester?

    "Our goal, frankly, was to try to give him some kind of future in the chaos," Lindh attorney James Brosnahan explained after the plea was announced. "He was pretty conscious of how public opinion was turning." Attorney General John Ashcroft did everything possible to trash Lindh's right to an impartial jury trial, including spewing outrageously inflammatory rhetoric ("We may never know why he turned his back on our country and our values, but we cannot ignore that he did. Youth is not absolution for treachery...") and having the venue moved to Virginia despite the fact that Lindh resided near San Francisco. A fair trial would have resulted in acquittal, but Lindh-more victim than perpetrator-would probably have received life imprisonment if hauled up before an Ashcroft kangaroo tribunal.

    Despite the long odds, one wishes that Lindh had held out for his day in court. His case stood to establish important precedents in the prosecution of accused enemies of the state, and would have exposed the despicable behavior of terrorists in our own military. "The U.S. government should not be able to plea out of its obligation under international law to protect those in U.S. custody from ill treatment. All allegations of abuse in custody should be investigated and the use of such methods should be strongly condemned," says Vienna Colucci, International Justice Specialist for Amnesty International.

    I wish Lindh had chosen to stand up and fight for himself; he didn't do anything wrong, much less illegal. The evidence against him came from his confession, which was coerced under torture. And there's an excellent chance that, even had a jury imposed a life sentence, a fairer-minded president would eventually have pardoned him. In any case, surely it's better to spend the rest of your life behind bars with your integrity intact than to yield to torture and an unfairly manipulated court system in exchange for a lousy deal.

    Then again, that's easier for a free man to say than a broken man-and at Camp Rhino Marines broke John Walker Lindh. And here in the United States, Ashcroft sucker-punched him. Rather than risk losing the rest of his life, Lindh surrendered a big chunk of it. He chose the easier way out, and these days, that makes this young jihadi as American as apple pie.

    ©2007 uclick, LLC

    Monica Goodling Testifying Before the House Judiciary Committee

    Monica Goodling is sitting before Conyers' committee right now. I hope to have a link to the transcript added to this post soon. She is young to be sure (seems younger than her age, which is also roughly mine), but is providing valuable information. She has essentially testified that the US Attorney termination list was the responsibility of AG Alberto Gonzales and DAG Paul J. McNulty. The much more interesting questions being asked now involve the intimate links between the Bush White House and the DOJ. Senator Whitehouse of Rhode Island has uncovered that the Bush Administration has the most liaisons / direct contacts with the DOJ than any other administration since the DOJ's founding.

    But I admire her honesty. In regards to her filtering-out of job applicants who seemed to be or were confirmed as Democrats, she said:

    "I know I crossed the line...[of] Civil Service Laws."

    Honesty is rare these days in the beltway.

    UPDATES, Thursday May 24th, 08:00EDT

    But the highlights of the day belong to Alabama Representative Artur Davis. It is he and California congressman Adam Schiff who introduced the House bill which authorizes a vote of No Confidence against AG Alberto Gonzales. Davis is Senate material and one damn good cross-examiner. He gets a cold beer for these two clips. He is the first lawmaker to get a witness to testify that Alberto Gonzales' testimony to Congress was not accurate (to put it lightly). Gonzales denied multiple times that he ever saw a draft of the USA termination list. But yesterday Goodling testified that he did. I think she was stunned by Davis' questioning. I suddenly love this guy. I never heard of him until this year, but he is in his third two-year term. He is currently the southernmost congressman to endorse Barak Obama for president.

    I wonder if Goodling didn't immediately realize that she was testifying that her former boss lied to Congress.

    When Davis said, "Let me help you a little bit with one other one," her reaction was an almost frightened whimper - "yeah." I wish this clip continued, because shortly after Davis got Goodling to confirm that Gonzales was present in the November 27th USA termination meeting (the meeting he repeatedly said he did not recall), Long Beach Republican congressman Dan Lungren threw a tantrum and tried to stop Davis' questioning. Goodling then asked to consult with her lawyer. After a brief recess, the committee voted 17-8 to allow Davis' questions to proceed. It was very entertaining stuff.

    Here is a clip of Davis asking Goodling about her final conversation with Gonzales in March 2007. She was uncomfortable speaking to Gonzales because she knew she would be a factual witness in the investigation of the USA firings. I don't think her final conversation with Gozales broke any law.  However, I do think during that conversation, Goodling realized that Gonzales was hiding information from Congress, and that made her uncomfortable. She left her job ("took leave") four days after her conversation with Gonzales.

    The laugh of the day goes to Iowa Republican congressman Steve King. Here he slaps critics of the evangelical Regent University (Goodling's alma mater), telling them that Harvard and Yale were also founded on Religious/Christian principles. So don't throw stones, heathens! I wonder how few Americans know who the Calvinists were. I appreciate him mentioning them. If his words inspire people to dig deeper, they will see that Harvard was not founded as an evangelical or religious institution, nor were the Calvinists anything like Pat Roberts.

    Flashback time. Before I fled for vacation, Artur Davis grilled Alberto Gonzales for a good long time. Here's the full clip.

    Adam Schiff was quite good in his first round of questioning. He had a single line of questions that successfully tied the termination reasons to the AG's own performance. Simply put, if the AG says that one or more USAs were fired for delegating too much and losing the confidence of his or her staff, shouldn't the AG be held to the same standard? Well done, Mr. Schiff.

    Big thanks to NancyPelosi for uploading these C-SPAN videos.

    Blogging the Gonzales Hearing

    09:45 EDT
    In his opening remarks, Senator Specter pretty much said it right out: Gonzales has this one chance to re-establish his credibility. If he doesn't, then he is finished.

    "This is your opportunity Mr. Attorney General to meet a high burden of proof to re-establish your credibility." - Senator Specter

    This is going to be so much fun. Gonzo has already started squinting. This is a slow, public execution.
    09:51 EDT
    "I believe you have come a long way from saying that this is an overblown personnel matter. This is as important a hearing that I can recall, short of a Supreme Court Justice confirmation hearing. This is more important than your own confirmation hearing." - Senator Specter
    09:57 EDT
    Alberto Gonzales is sworn-in. He is now reading his statement, parts of which were already released to the press and will soon appear on the Senate Judicial Committee website.
    10:06 EDT
    Leahy gets Gonzo to testify that Karl Rove and Senator Pete Domemici asked that US Attorney Iglesias be added to the termination list. Gonzales says that Iglesias' name was added to the list sometime between October 17th and November 15th 2006.

    "Mr. Iglesias lost the confidence of Senator Domenici in the fall of 2005 when the senator called me and said that Mr. Iglesias was in over his head."
    10:14 EDT
    Leahy tags Specter. Specter now gets a chance to beat-up Gonzo. And he will.

    "I prepare for all my hearings, senator."

    "Do you prepare for all your press conferences?"

    "Senator, I've already said, I misspoke."


    10:27 EDT
    Ted Kennedy takes-over. I am watching him, Leahy, Feinstein, Schumer, and Feingold very closely.
    10:42 EDT
    Gonzales is being asked by Senator Brownback to give a reason for termination, name by name.
    10:57 EDT
    Orrin Hatch provides comfort to Gonzales. This is a good opportunity to take a pee break.
    11:05 EDT
    Feinstein gets him and then we take a 15-minute break. Feinstein has 3 great questions:

    1. Whose idea was it to amend the Patriot Act to give the AG the power to fire US Attorneys without Senate approval? Gonzo does not recall.

    2. Who was the decider to terminate the US Attorneys effective December 7th 2005? Gonzo admits that he was the decider and he did it without looking at the performance reports.

    3. Did anyone who was involved in the group firing ever look at the performance reports prior to building the termination list? Gonzo says he doesn't know.
    11:10 EDT
    Feinstein ends her questions by pinning-down Gonzales on the issue of Carol Lam. Lam was a rockstar. She was the best-known US Attorney besides Patrick Fitzgerald. She had glowing reviews. She took-down big offenders in organized crime, illegal gun sales, and immigration. Gonzales ties in vain to explain that despite her being a star attorney, the performance of her district still needed to be improved, and she had to be let go after four years.

    Time for a 15-minute recess. This should resume shortly after 11:30.
    11:35 EDT
    Feingold is up. Gonzales tells him to look at the facts before drawing conclusions.

    "This overall problem here has led to many unfortunate thoughts about the situation, whether they are true or not."
    - Russ Feingold

    He's being diplomatic and careful not to declare that the firings were politically-motivated.

    Now he moves-on to ask Gonzales about what Kyle Sampson told him during the termination process (the creation of the list, keeping the White House informed, etc.). Gonzales does not recall in response to most of Feingold's questions. I think I just counted six "I do not recall."

    "You really had no basis to tell the American people in your USA Today op-ed on March 7th that the fired US Attorneys had lost your confidence. ....That's inexcusable."
    - Russ Feingold


    I am being pulled to the other side of the river for a meeting. Well, I do have a day job, I guess. It's just so difficult to do it on a day like this. And the Red Sox play at 12:30! maybe I can resume blogging at 14:00.

    Many many thanks to the new visitors who looked at my site today. I run a blog mainly for myself and my friends in New York and Boston. I seldom get more than 20 different visitors a day. If you want real take-downs of wingnuts, please visit or Those guys are my inspiration and they show how to really run a small blog with a sharp bite.
    13:51 EDT
    I'm back.

    I guess I missed Chuck Schumer nailing Gonzo again. Apparently I did miss another breakthrough thanks to Senator Schumer. To quote from Janet on the comments page at Crooks & Liars:

    "Schumer says that after this testimony the Reagan and Bush I WH would have a new AG. This WH doesn't care about anyone but themselves and that's the difference. WOW"

    Hearing will resume at 14:30.
    14:35 EDT
    Senator Chuck Grassley has arrived and is now mildly grilling Gonzales. From his tone, it would seem that Grassley is not going to defend the AG. He wants to know who initiated the review of US Attorneys. Gonzales tells him it was his idea.
    14:45 EDT
    Senator Benjamin Cardin goes after Gonzales. C-SPAN3 reminds us that this is still the first round of questioning. We're going to be here well after 17:00. Good.

    "Looking at all the information we now know, you still stand by your decision, that this was the right thing to do?"

    "Do you disagree with the perception that is out there? [Gonzales: Yes] So what would stop you from doing it again?"
    15:00 EDT
    Senator Tom Coburn tells Gonzales that he should resign, because there should be consequences for his mistakes.

    "It is my considered opinion that the same standards be applied to you in judging how this was handled."

    Coburn says that the US attorneys were terminated due to what the AG described (to Brownback) as poor leadership and management skills. Coburn tells Gonzales that the same standard should be applied to him to determine his fate.

    "The best way to put this behind us is your resignation."
    15:10 EDT
    Senator Shelly Whitehouse:
    "I think you set the bar way low for yourself....if you hang a US Attorney once in a while just to discourage the others, you have to admit that it would be improper."

    "It's more than a management issue. it's an issue about the structure through which justice is administered in this country."
    15:15 EDT
    Senator John Kyl filibusters and asks questions about Internet gambling for minutes...
    15:22 EDT
    Leahy takes the wheel. Whew.

    He asks Gonzales which version of events the committee should focus on:

    His February testimony to the Judicial Committee?
    His March press conference?
    His March op-ed in USA Today?
    His written statement submitted to the committee this week?
    His testimony to the Judicial Committee today?

    That pretty much sums it up.
    15:38 EDT
    The Red Sox have defeated Toronto, 5-3.
    The Yankees are now losing to Cleveland, 5-2.
    The Red Sox host the Yankees tomorrow evening. It's going to be sweet.
    15:39 EDT
    Diane Feinstein is up. Specter just spent 7 minutes filibustering. Arlen is done, but we're not.

    "I would like to know who selected those individuals on that [termination] list. Mr. Sampson testified he didn't."

    "Mr. Sampson had been involved in filling senior leadership positions at the DOJ and so he had experience in making personnel decisions."

    "How could you say three weeks ago that the White House played no role in adding or deleting names [on the list]?"

    "I have a hard time with you telling me to this day that you don't know how top-ranked prosecutors were added to this list."

    "If I were you, I'd want to know who selected [the names]."

    She ends with the Carol Lam issue. Feinstein received a letter two months before Lam was fired stating that her performance had been satisfactory, and that Lam had no idea that her bosses in Washington were planning to fire her. The firing seemed 'out of the blue.' Well put, senator.
    [Then Senaotor Whitehouse brings a chart and a topic that probably deserves its own separate post. It was that good.]
    16:30 EDT

    Schumer just dropped the biggest hammer you can drop. He asked Gonzo to get the hell out, now.

    "I don't see any point in another round of questions."

    "I urge you to re-examine your performance, and for the good of the department, and the good of the country, step down."

    "...the burden is on you to give a full, complete and convincing explanation as to sir, in my view...when you fire people who have good evaluations...the burden of proof lays on the person..who took responsibility for the firing."
    16:47 EDT
    The Yankees have come back to win 8-6. It sucks. But now come to daddy.
    Committee adjourned.
    What will become of Gonzales? What is his fate? This won't end well, no matter how it goes down.

    Charles Schumer:
    "The bottom line is, it may not have been a knockout punch, but he took 20 steps backwards."

    Gonzales' time is limited now. How long will he twist in the wind?

    At Tribeca Film Festival: Taxi to the Dark Side

    I poured through the Tribeca Film Festival listings two weekends ago, and I don't recall seeing this documentary. Tom Tomorrow makes a strong case for seeing it. Taxi to the Dark Side appears to be a comprehensive look at how we officially became a torture state. And thanks to director Alex Gibney (The Smartest Guys in the Room), it is polished and well constructed.

    Showtimes and locations:
    Saturday April 28th, 20:30, Clearview Chelsea
    Sunday April 29th, 21:45, AMC 34th Street
    Tuesday May 1st, 18:30, AMC 34th Street
    Thursday May 3rd, 15:00, AMC Kips Bay

    Locations and tickets can be viewed here.

    Thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival for making all trailers available through Brightcove (which I now realize is slicker than YouTube), and encouraging bloggers to embed the trailers on their sites. This is how a film festival should promote itself.

    April 19th, 09:30 EDT, Let's Get Ready to Rumble: Alberto Gonzales Faces the Senate Judicial Committee

    If you are going to Washington, it will be held in room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

    It will be broadcast live on C-SPAN 3.

    Room number and C-SPAN channel are subject to change. This post will update if there are changes.

    UPDATE, 09:29EDT: C-SPAN confirms that it will be broadcast on C-SPAN 3. Los Tres! And the hearing will be held in Hart room 216. Line-up early, kids. Just 24.5 hours before Gonzo swears-in.

    Anonymous Liberal has an outstanding outline of questions for Alberto Gonzales that need to be asked tomorrow.

    Monica Goodling: The Incompetent Baby Lawyer

    Dahlia Lithwick of The Washington Post and Johnathan Last of the Philadelphia Inquirer have researched Monica Goodling, the latest Alberto Gonzales aide to resign. They have found that she is many things. Not only is she a junior lawyer who assisted in selecting which US Attorneys to terminate (and possibly obstructed justice in doing so). Not only did she probably assist in lying to congress. But she also represents a perfectly legal but disturbing effort by small evangelical colleges to fill the Federal Government with evangelical Christians. And wouldn't you know, most students who graduate from the schools mentioned in the articles are registered Republicans. The slowly-rising Christian Nationalist theocracy continues to be revealed by journalists like who know how to use 'The Google.'

    Alberto Gonzales Resignantion Watch

    He will testify to the Senate Judicial Committee on Tuesday April 17th. Assuming he keeps the Bush / Wall Street tradition of taking care of bad news on a Friday evening, do we think he will resign on Friday April 20th? The pressure is mounting on him to resign earlier, but he will get the green-light after he testifies.

    It must suck knowing your ass is out the door, but you have to delay it as long as possible to buy the White House a few more crisis-free weekends. I mean, he has no hope of saving his job. It's not as if his testimony will save his ass.

    Now the Gonzo narrative from the White House goes like this: He is preparing for his April 17th appearance like it is a heavyweight bout (The 17th will be the 68th anniversary of Joe Lewis' defeat of Jack Roper to defend his title, by the way). The White House is going to let him go down swinging and with some dignity. But make no mistake, Pat Leahy, Ted Kennedy, and Russ Feingold are going to tear his head off (Feinstein and Schumer seem to be poised to do the same, but they have to prove to me that they can bring it in the big game). Have your TIVOs ready.

    Gonzo is going down. No, it is not fair. It's several senators against one. It will be a public assfuck. But these are the rules they live by and die by in the beltway. It's like wiseguys who get whacked. They knew the risks long before they entered the game.

    Update, 4/20/2007, 10:19 EDT: I stand corrected. Feinstein, Schumer and former USA Sheldon Whitehouse stole the show. They get cold beers from us. I totally underestimated Whitehouse. He is a sniper. He linked the firings of the USAs to the unprecedented, expanded relationship between the White House and the DOJ. Karl Rove really did want the DOJ to serve at the pleasure of His Majesty. Whitehouse has the evidence. Amazing.