By now, thanks to The Washington Post, you’ve figured out that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, he of the minimal memory, can warp time itself. The Department of Justice, under his leadership, can also turn an FBI report of civil liberties violations into a typographical error.
The AG told Congress on April 27, 2005, that “[t]here has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.”
The Post today, however, reported that the FBI had notified Mr. Gonzales of such violations as much as three months before that:
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 Post said 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.” It reported that “Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.”
White House support for the attorney general did not waver. From today’s press gaggle conducted by White House spokesman Scott Stanzel:
Q: Scott, can you respond to The Washington Post story today on — that Attorney General Gonzales received multiple reports from the FBI about lapses in the procedures safeguarding the use of national security letters and other procedures of that sort? Should Gonzales have acted on those reports from the FBI?
MR. STANZEL: I would refer you over to the Department of Justice on that. I’ve certainly seen that story and I know they’ve had comments in it, but I don’t have any information for you on that.
Q: Is it appropriate for a Cabinet officer to ignore reports from below about wrongdoing within his agency?
MR. STANZEL: I’m not aware that that’s the assertion. But maybe that’s the assertion you’re making, but the President has said repeatedly that he has great faith in the Attorney General, and that has not changed.
Q: Will the White House be looking into and evaluating his performance in this regard?
MR. STANZEL: With response to the story, you mean?
Q: With response to these reports that the FBI had —
MR. STANZEL: What reports?
Q: The FBI reports about improper following of procedures, safeguards on national security letters and other things.
MR. STANZEL: That’s — you know, Maura, that’s all I have for you on that. We’ll continue to — I’ll try to gather some more information for you on that, but I’d refer you over to the Department of Justice for more facts about what reports they may have received —
Q: But he still has —
MR. STANZEL: — about this story.
Q: He still has faith in the Attorney General, despite the fact you’re just — I mean —
MR. STANZEL: The President’s views on the Attorney — the President’s views on the Attorney General have not changed.
Mr. Stanzel referred reporters to the Department of Justice for “more facts about what reports they may have received.” (Did you like that subtle dodge of “may have received,” as if none of this really happened? It’s more than “spin,” it’s more than “denial,” it’s sheer bear scat.)
The Post did, of course, ask the DoJ. Here’s the context offered by spokesman Brian Roehrkasse:
[Roehrkasse said] that when Gonzales testified, he was speaking “in the context” of reports by the department’s inspector general before this year that found no misconduct or specific civil liberties abuses related to the Patriot Act.
“The statements from the attorney general are consistent with statements from other officials at the FBI and the department.” He added that many of the violations the FBI disclosed were not legal violations and instead involved procedural safeguards or even typographical errors.”
Typographical errors. Egads.
How many more of Mr. Gonzales’ “errors” and “memory lapses” â€” and the bullshit spun in response to them â€” is Congress going to tolerate? Crank up that subpoena machine again, kiddies.
xpost: 5th Estate