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Love and Affection Shared Between DOJ and the White House, Spring 2004 Edition:
The Comey testimony from yesterday has so many juicy little tidbits that it's a little hard to chose among them. But here are just two more little details I missed the first time that speak volumes about the level of trust between DOJ and the White House in the Spring of 2004.

  First, there's the part about FBI Director Bob Mueller ordering the security detail at the hospital not to allow Comey to be removed from the hospital room. From Comey's testimony:
I went out in the hallway, [and] spoke to Director Mueller by phone. He was on his way. I handed the phone to the head of the security detail and Director Mueller instructed the FBI agents present not to allow me to be removed from the room under any circumstances. And I went back in the room
  Can you imagine that? The Director of the FBI ordered FBI agents to make sure that the President's Counsel and Chief of Staff didn't kick out the Acting Attorney General in an effort to isolate Ashcroft and get his approval. (Thanks to Glenn Greenwald for spotting this.)

  Another show of trust and love between DOJ and the White House comes two pages later in the transcript, when White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card demands that Comey come to the White House. Comey explains:
And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately. I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.
  Think about that — the Acting AG was so suspicious of the WH Chief of Staff that he wouldn't come to the White House to talk to him without a witness present. Wow.
BobH (mail):
I assume that also in the room was somebody who's now a writer for "24." This is scary stuff.
5.16.2007 7:18pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
I'm waiting for the part where Comey meets Hal Holbrook in a Georgetown parking garage.
5.16.2007 7:48pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Let's not forget this unforgettable line, from Andy Card:

"What conduct? We were just there to wish him well."
5.16.2007 7:49pm
M. Lederman (mail):
Orin: What does it remind you of?

See here.
5.16.2007 7:57pm
Recovering Law Grad:
Honor and integrity back in the White House!
5.16.2007 8:00pm
Peter Young (mail):
Comey didn't have to remember all this in his testimony. He must have been waiting ... and hoping.
5.16.2007 8:03pm
Xenos:

This is scary stuff.


That is an understatement.
5.16.2007 8:48pm
SP:
What's so scary about it is that I can't fathom WHY the White House did all of this, except for naked power. The theory that they wanted this "for the good of the country" gets tossed out when they started sneaking around like alley cats.
5.16.2007 9:14pm
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
I really don't understand why any of this is surprising or even shocking. It's been well known for years that this administration has preferred politics over reason, and has taken a win-at-all-costs with-us-or-against-us attitude to everything. And that's not even including the intense secrecy of the administration. Anybody with even slight libertarian leanings should have seen this coming.

On the other hand, this story gives me at least some food for thought w/r/t my opinion of John Ashcroft. Clearly the man has a type of integrity that I didn't know about before.
5.16.2007 9:15pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
That's pretty funny, Techie. Isn't he some kind of Episcopalian priest or something?
5.16.2007 9:50pm
Anonymous Reader:
Wow,

It's amazing how everyone has just assumed the worst of this administration. Please answer a few questions:

1. What innocent person has been jailed, punished, etc by this program or any other program from this administration?

2. If the intent was to gather dirt on political enemies, who are the possible enemies? And have they succeeded? I would assume that if you blackmailed someone, that it was done to modify their behavior, vote for something, or something along those lines. I guess the administration is inept at blackmail as well. This program has been going on for years and they couldn't even "leak" a scandal to maintain/increase their majority in the house and senate?!

3. What exactly are the results of these "illegal" secret programs? Can't it be that they're actually doing what they purport to do in terms of staving off any attacks?

No one has come out and said why they're illegal. I've only read speculation, innuendo, and more conspiracy theories. Give us some real stuff to chew on!

Anonymous Reader
5.16.2007 10:00pm
davod (mail):
I am shocked, shocked, to find absolute belief going on of anyone critical of the administration. This blog will be closed until further notice.

The Angel Comey of course would have absolutely no reason to embelish his tale of woe. Is it the soon to be released book or the hope of being Attorney General in a Demoncratic administraton.
5.16.2007 10:09pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

1. What innocent person has been jailed, punished, etc by this program or any other program from this administration?
Um, you're not really serious about this one, right? How about the people swept up in various places, held for years on no charges, and then released when they found no evidence?
5.16.2007 10:16pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
And not just any witness, but the Solicitor General.

No one has come out &said why they're illegal.

Anon Reader is clearly a liberal who thinks classified material should be blabbed out.
5.16.2007 10:19pm
JosephSlater (mail):
Davod:

Yeah, why should we believe Comey's version of events, when contrary versions have already been put out by . . . um, . . .
5.16.2007 10:26pm
the transformative power of Comey's narrative:
is the conversion of Alberto Gonzales from Clouseauesque bumbler into Snidely Whiplashesqu villain, perched over Ashcroft's hospital bed like a vulture, holding the foreboding envelope, refusing even to acknowledge Comey's presence in the room.
5.16.2007 10:43pm
PersonFromPorlock:
"Snidely Whiplashesqu;" Romanian WWI pilot?
5.16.2007 11:15pm
TMac (mail):
Yeah, why should we believe Comey's version of events, when contrary versions have already been put out by . . . um, . . .

Does an unrebutted story automatically carry the mantle of truth?
5.16.2007 11:22pm
Mark Field (mail):

Does an unrebutted story automatically carry the mantle of truth?


No, but this was a very credible witness and just like in summary judgment cases, there is now at least the burden of coming forward with counter-evidence.
5.17.2007 12:00am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Um, doesn't it strike anyone else as odd that a Deputy AG would/could refuse to come to the WH for a meeting without being terminated? I'm not sure I could get away with that with my boss, and I'm a lowly Principal Engineer.
5.17.2007 12:07am
a bean:
Readers of my other comments should know that I do not oft criticize the administration.

But this story is damning: the sheer internal dysfunction that it shows is striking. This sure is a ham-handed way to run the executive. Likely the cause is the President's own ignorance of the back-dealing. I am reminded of the stories about how Colin Powell avoiding leaving the country for fear of being cut-off and routed by his intellectual opponents within the administration.
5.17.2007 12:08am
Eli Rabett (www):
John Danforth is an Episcopal priest. Same state, same party, different former Senator as Ashcroft.
5.17.2007 12:17am
RLoblaw (mail) (www):
I always wondered why John Yoo ended up getting the boot from DOJ instead of heading the OLC as planned. The explanation that he was too close to the White House never made much sense, and it made me think Ashcroft was a nut, or should I say a paranoid nut.

Now I'm starting to get it.
5.17.2007 12:18am
Justice Fuller:
Charlie (Colorado),

Comey was the Acting AG at the time. And he didn't refuse to come -- he just wanted to go by DOJ first to pick up the SG.
5.17.2007 12:20am
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
a bean:

Since you're saying that you don't often criticize the administration...

Do you think that the president tacitly approves of this type of nonsense, or do you think he's above it all and just had the misfortune of picking advisors who themselves engage in these types of unethical activities?
5.17.2007 12:23am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
" Think about that — the Acting AG was so suspicious of the WH Chief of Staff that he wouldn't come to the White House to talk to him without a witness present. Wow."

That's the protocol my husband (atty) and I have to follow with whit's livery stable of CIs. And I really don't see the focus should be so much on the words "so suspicious," as on the fact that from previous experience you already know the beast you are dealing with.

I do agree in every way with the sentiment "Wow."
5.17.2007 1:03am
Kovarsky (mail):
I think everybody knows that I'm comfortable firing away at administration apologists, but it's not even worth it here. This doesn't even pass the smell test. I think some guy upthread insinuated that Comey was trying to sell books.
5.17.2007 1:08am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Oh, and I forgot to add, all the whit/CI troubles started after I complained disabled Floridians were being disenfranchised from voting in Florida's Presidential and Congressional elections in violation of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Enough votes, I would think, to have changed the results from Republican to Democrat.

And, please, before it happens, I am sure Viticitios will try to tell me this is off-topic to the US Atty Scandal and the resignation of Tampa US Atty Paul Perez ...
5.17.2007 1:10am
Blue (mail):
Ashcroft was always a much more decent guy than the rap he got early on.
5.17.2007 1:11am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Kovarsky. I think Comey is a brave soul with integrity. Maybe he should be the next nominee for AG.
5.17.2007 1:13am
uh_clem (mail):
Ashcroft was always a much more decent guy than the rap he got early on.

Ashcroft is a principled guy who believes in lots of weird stuff. His internal moral compass is not aligned with the wishes of the Bush family, but something else entirely. He's certainly not a reprehensible toady like the currrent occupant of the AG office.

So, it's not at all surprising that he stood up to Bush &co. on principle, but that dosen't absolve him of being a very strange person who shouldn't be put in charge of anything.

Good for him for sticking to his principles at the worst possible time, but I still wouldn't trust him to watch the lemonade stand while I went out to get more lemons, if you get my drift.
5.17.2007 1:48am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Does an unrebutted story automatically carry the mantle of truth?

No, but this was a very credible witness and just like in summary judgment cases, there is now at least the burden of coming forward with counter-evidence."

Ahhh, No, Gonzalez can just hire 'the burden is always on the other guy' whit, and dispense with these bothersome rules.
5.17.2007 2:10am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Seriously, why doesn't the Texas State Bar just file disbarment proceedings against Gonzalez's law license based on what we know so far, and then he would no longer qualify for the AG position, and this all would just end.
5.17.2007 2:15am
Kovarsky (mail):
Seriously, why doesn't the Texas State Bar just file disbarment proceedings against Gonzalez's law license based on what we know so far, and then he would no longer qualify for the AG position, and this all would just end.

I think that would be unfortunate. I think Congress should have their feet held to the fire. The Constitution confers upon them to investigate and deal with problems like this, and they should be forced to deal with the issue in the manner that checks and balances contemplates.
5.17.2007 2:25am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Kovarsky, that would be great if Congress would do the people's will, but so far we do not see that they are willing to do so. So far, no impeachment of Gonzalez, no impeachment of Cheney and Bush, and no backbone to end the Iraq money pit. Instead, we are watching what has become a daily circus.
5.17.2007 2:29am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Kovarsky, because of this, we have become the laughing stock of the World. And THAT surely is a greater National Security concern than having the FBI spy on the Quakers.
5.17.2007 2:32am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
And I, for one American, would like to hear Congress ask the appropriate players under Oath about the truth of Cheney being in charge of NORAD the morning of 9-11 -- and to further explain why NORAD failed to respond to air flight controllers at Logan until it was too late.
5.17.2007 2:39am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Now I'm starting to get it."
5.17.2007 2:41am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
Nixon, the Cancer in the White House ... it metastized.
5.17.2007 2:45am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Ashcroft is a principled guy who believes in lots of weird stuff. His internal moral compass is not aligned with the wishes of the Bush family, but something else entirely. He's certainly not a reprehensible toady like the currrent occupant of the AG office.
Ashcroft was in the Senate. If there's one thing you can say about U.S. Senators, it's that every one of them thinks he's twice as smart and twice as qualified to be president as anybody else -- including the sitting president -- is. So whatever Ashcroft's ideology, he's unlikely to roll over for the president.

But Gonzales has always been a Bush personal friend. No need to call it a "toady," but he has owed essentially his entire governmental career to Bush. It's not surprising that he would be more amenable to doing what Bush wants than Ashcroft.
5.17.2007 3:20am
Nostraspamus (mail):
Question for Owen or one of the other hosts of this discussion.

A web board I'm a member of populated by gun nuts and mostly conservative types is asunder at the suggestion by a member (me) that if POTUS actually knew and directed this sort of "undue influence" scenario that it would be an abuse of power scenario rating impeachment.

Thoughts as a technical matter? Anything about this that can be considered a "high" crime or misdemeanor?
5.17.2007 3:45am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The Constitution does not require the AG to be a member of the bar. Is there a statute that does? As far as I know, it is only a matter of convention.
5.17.2007 4:12am
Anonymous Reader:
Felix,

You've got to be kidding right? I don't want this discussion to devolve into the current batch of detainees we have down in Gitmo. Maybe I wasn't explicit about innocent AMERICANS who have been jailed, punished, etc.

Anderson,

No, I do not think classified info should be blabbed about. But maybe it makes you feel better to think you know, but in actuality, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. That is, unless you have access to classified material. Otherwise, you're just speculating just like everyone else. Seems like there are several posters who have a stake in the outcome, it'll justify their dislike of the administration. But I would rather move on from the partisian reactions and get down to the nitty gritty. Please, answer my questions.

Anonymous Reader
5.17.2007 6:14am
TechieLaw (mail) (www):
Anonymous:

How about an innocent North American (i.e. Canadian)?: http://www.maherarar.ca/
(This story is real and has been confirmed by multiple big-name news sources -- the guy was pulled off an airplane at JFK and sent to Syria by the US Government to be tortured for a year.)

And if you're asking for people who have been "punished" (you didn't define that term) by any program run by the US government:

* Senator Ted Kennedy has been refused the right to board an airplane solely based on his name.
* Senator Ted Stevens' wife Catherine has been refused the right to board an airplane because her name is similar to "Cat Stevens" (a.k.a. Yussuf Islam)

If these two hadn't been a U.S. Senator or the wife of a U.S. Senator, it's doubtful that the problem would have been fixed as easily. There are reports of babies under a year old being refused the right to board an airplane because they are on some secret list drawn up by the US government. In other words, a U.S. government program has effectively determined that these people are "dangerous" with virtually no process and taken away a right enjoyed by Americans.

Need more?
5.17.2007 8:18am
jholbo (mail) (www):
Anonymous poster writes: "Seems like there are several posters who have a stake in the outcome, it'll justify their dislike of the administration." But maybe that's not the only way to have a stake in the outcome, eh?

Is there anything more tedious than nakedly partisan denunciations of partisanship? (Of course there are. A hundred things, in the dentist's office alone. But you see my point.)

With that gas evacuated from the chamber, the atmosphere is clarified: the question is certainly about procedure and principle. In a case where someone has violated these, ex hypothesi, the question whether any concrete HARM resulted, above and beyond the harm to the procedures and principles themselves, is not an avenue along which you can plausibly seek justification, nor even excuse or mitigation. (Not unless you just don't think much of principles or procedures.) If you drove drunk, and didn't hit anyone, your good fortune consists not in the fact that it turned out to be fine for you to drive drunk, but in the happy fact that you are not now also guilty of manslaughter, whatever.

In short, this 'nitty gritty' of which you speak seems to taste of red herring, to a suspicious degree.
5.17.2007 8:19am
Rodger Lodger (mail):
The end of the Comey story is that Bush directed the program to operate legally. This is a tad different from what the NY Times and others have reported since December 2005. Maybe I missed something, but even if the program operated illegally, how is it Bush's fault?
5.17.2007 8:28am
TMac (mail):
I find it incredible that so many commenting on this seem to think that Comey, protoge' of Chucky Shumer, is strictly an apolitical straight-shooter with no thought of anything but protection of the constitution. AG AG is a dunce who should be impeached if Bush won't fire him, but Comey is the last person a sane republican should replace him with.
5.17.2007 9:00am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Right. James Comey was SUCH a liberal protege of Schumer's that he was appointed Deputy AG in the Bush administration, which has bent over backwards to install liberals in the highest seats of government.

This NY Mag article -- written upon his appointment as DAG -- gives some background on Comey, including this gem:

His New York critics, however, think they see Comey’s colors clearly beneath the smiling façade. “Nothing Comey has done here suggests he’s going to act as a brake on what Ashcroft is doing,” says Christopher Dunn, associate legal director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “He is a congenial person. But that can’t obscure the fact that he’s pushing a set of policies that are extremely hostile to civil liberties.”
5.17.2007 10:19am
R. Richard Schweitzer (mail):
All this blather indicates that no one has read, or wants to evaluate the entire transcript of Mr. Comey's appearance; all questions and answers.

R Richard Schweitzer
5.17.2007 10:35am
Barry (mail):
Roger: "Maybe I missed something, but even if the program operated illegally, how is it Bush's fault?"

Um, isn't he a rather high-ranking government official? Not the War Czar, or anything, but ISTR that he might actually be in a position to have responsibility for the DoJ *and* the NSA.
5.17.2007 10:51am
CJColucci:
<i>That's pretty funny, Techie. Isn't he some kind of Episcopalian priest or something?</i>

As it happens, he isn't -- you're confusing him with another Missouri Republican Senator -- but he could have, and apparently does have, integrity nevertheless.
5.17.2007 11:44am
CJColucci:
<i>That's pretty funny, Techie. Isn't he some kind of Episcopalian priest or something?</i>

As it happens, he isn't -- you're confusing him with another Missouri Republican Senator -- but he could have, and apparently does have, integrity nevertheless.
5.17.2007 11:44am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Not the War Czar, or anything"

Maybe he has abdicated his CIC obligations, and can now be impeached? Just a thought.
5.17.2007 11:57am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
War Czar ... sounds positively pre-Bolshevik
5.17.2007 11:59am
Oren (mail):

Maybe I missed something, but even if the program operated illegally, how is it Bush's fault?


There was something in that constitution about ensuring that the laws are faithfully executed (Art II, sec III). FISA is a law. President Bush has the responsibility to see that FISA is faithfully executed.

Of course, if he thinks FISA is unconstitutional, he can take that novel theory to the courts and see what they make of it. Absent action by the courts, the constitution binds him to FISA (and not just to any old interpretation of FISA, he's got to execute it FAITHFULLY).
5.17.2007 12:11pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
All this blather indicates that no one has read, or wants to evaluate the entire transcript of Mr. Comey's appearance; all questions and answers.

Well, that was certainly helpful.
5.17.2007 12:25pm
Seamus (mail):

Right. James Comey was SUCH a liberal protege of Schumer's that he was appointed Deputy AG in the Bush administration, which has bent over backwards to install liberals in the highest seats of government.



Anderson, what you fail to realize is that, even if Comey *appeared* to be a Bush supporter when he was appointed, the fact that he isn't sticking to the party line can only be explained by the fact that he's really a Schumer protoge (and probably a left-wing deviationist, wrecker, and capitalist-roader).
5.17.2007 12:50pm
rarango (mail):
It is indeed good to know that we are high-fiving each other all around for our omnicience (when really all that is happened is that one version of a story confirms our biases). We have Comey's version of events; Anyone think he might have some self interest here? There are also others who can provide their version: Ashcroft, Card, and Gonzalez, and whoever else was in the hospital room. Would it be worthwhile to get those before leaping to conclusions?

So far it looks like Comey's testimony only confirms preexisting biases (although perhaps surprising some who saw Ashcroft as devil incarnate; eg, Tony Lewis).

Shouldnt we withhold judgment and wait until all the versions are in? Really--I though you guys were mostly lawyers. Isnt some healthy skepticism in order? Someone explain to me how this situation is different than the Duke "rape" case in terms of rush to judgment?
5.17.2007 1:15pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
In this and related threads we've seen some excellent satire from various folks, like Kovarsky and Seamus. But they are both too modest to mention that they have been posting elsewhere, under other names, including this clever choice: "Enlightened" (!).

All the following can be found in a thread here:

So, any more doubts that Comey is up to his neck in the behind-the-scenes attempts to bring down GWB? …

I suspect that the arrival of Comey at the feckless Ashcroft's DoJ signalled the beginning of a coup attempt that would use DoJ to try to topple, or seriously cripple, the Administration through action on several fronts: prominently Plamegate and legal aspects of the GWOT. …

Comey came on board as DAG at the beginning of December, 2003, and he had some unusual support for a Republican appointee--Senator Chuck Schumer was very much in his corner. …

The core group of players in almost every GOP Super Scandal to date - boomerang directly back into Charles Schumers lap. …

if Comey's working "behind the scenes" to unseat Bush, the Republican Party surely has lost all discipline. …

The NYT is running some B.S. about how loyal Comey was to Bush......Who leaked the story over a year ago to Risen? Asked and answered.
5.17.2007 1:17pm
badger (mail):

We have Comey's version of events; Anyone think he might have some self interest here? There are also others who can provide their version

Do you think it's likely that Comey would give a false account of events under oath when there were several other witnesses to the events he testified about (Ashcroft, Ashcroft's wife, AG, Card, Mueller, the FBI guards, etc.)? Or maybe he should have taken Monica Goodling's advice about that scarry Democrat "perjury trap". Watch out Comey! Your truthful answers will put you in jail for sure!
5.17.2007 1:40pm
Steve:
Someone explain to me how this situation is different than the Duke "rape" case in terms of rush to judgment?

We're going to need a new version of Godwin's Law at this rate.
5.17.2007 1:52pm
Kazinski:
Just how paranoid is Comey? Was there any evidence whatsover that Card and Gonzales were intending to eject them, or were the nurses trying to get the crazy man in the room out of there so Ashcroft could rest.

The more I hear of this incident, in Comey's own words, the more I am beginning to wonder about Comey's mental stability.
5.17.2007 1:59pm
badger (mail):

Was there any evidence whatsover that Card and Gonzales were intending to eject them, or were the nurses trying to get the crazy man in the room out of there so Ashcroft could rest.

I'm sure Comey had enough experience with AG and Card to be aware of any precautions he would need to take. Additionally, when dealing with something as high stakes as whether or not a sick and probably drugged Attorney General will be allowed to be pressured into signing legal documents, it's a very responsible idea to clear up with the FBI agents at the door who they're taking their orders from and to have the Director of the FBI agree to that arrangement (was Mueller a paranoid lunatic too, Kaz?)

Meanwhile, Bush won't even answer direct questions about whether or not he ordered AG and Card to go to the hospital. He dismisses sworn testimony from a direct witness and high-ranking government official as "speculation". He remains the most dishonorable President this nation has ever had, and we've had (at least) one who received regular oral sex in the West Wing from a staff member.
5.17.2007 2:10pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
It's hard to know who to trust these days. Here are a few notes from the Department of Cognitive Dissonance.

rarango: "We have Comey's version of events; Anyone think he might have some self interest here?"

kazinski: "[Comey is] paranoid … crazy … I am beginning to wonder about Comey's mental stability"

Let the swiftboating begin.

Andrew McCarthy is a frequent NRO contributor and former federal prosecutor. He prosecuted Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. This is what McCarthy said a couple of days ago about Comey:

Jim Comey has been my friend for 20 years.  He is among the most decent, patriotic men it's been my privilege to know.  If he says it happened that way then, so far as I'm concerned, it happened that way.  End of story.

Oops. I guess that means we can't swiftboat Comey unless we also swiftboat McCarthy. Hence this remark:

all I can say re Andy McCarthy is... Well, best left unwritten.

That was said by Al Jackson, a/k/a "anduril," who recently said this:

I suspect that the arrival of Comey at the feckless Ashcroft's DoJ signalled the beginning of a coup attempt that would use DoJ to try to topple, or seriously cripple, the Administration

That was published at a blog with this ironic title: "American Thinker."

We're not done tracing the ricocheting swiftboating, because note what Power Line has said about McCarthy:

We're big fans of Andrew McCarthy.

Power Line has quoted McCarthy approvingly dozens of times.

Why would they be saying nice things about a guy like McCarthy? All I can say re Power Line is... Well, best left unwritten.

Let's take a moment to recall that Power Line are the commie moonbats who famously described Bush as follows:

A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius … He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time

Anyway, the inevitable conclusion is that Comey, McCarthy and Power Line are all part of Schumer's "coup attempt."

The serpent is chewing its own tail. It will have swallowed itself completely if we can show that Bush has ever vouched for Power Line.
5.17.2007 2:11pm
rarango (mail):
Badger: short answer, NO, I don't think he would; but do you really expect him to be a dispassionate and completely neutral observer of the truth? come on.

He would testify truthfully AS HE INTERPRETED THE TRUTH--just as you or I would. Human nature
5.17.2007 2:19pm
rarango (mail):
Stever Re Godwin's law: I am so happy to know that you, who have read a second hand version from one person who may have some interest in getting his own story out there, have discerned "reality." You honestly believe that? Godwin's law? You cant look at this thread and see a rush to judgment? Whoa.........

And BTW: I dont have a dog in this fight; I dont care who said what to whom, I don't like the AG, but I am questioning how supposedly intelligent and highly educated people can glom on to ONE version of a complex event and discern reality.

Steve: waiting for your response on that question, please.
5.17.2007 2:23pm
John Herbison (mail):
Let's see now. Who appointed Comey as DAG? Who vetted the proposed appointment?

The silence of the other principals is one that speaks loudly.

Various references to The Godfather's hospital scene have floated around the blogosphere this week. Since this is the Bush administration, will someone wake up to find a horse's behind in his bed?
5.17.2007 2:27pm
badger (mail):
Rarango: The story's been out there for days now. Don't you think that if Comey was presenting a distorted picture of what happened someone would have spoken up by now? Instead, Gonzales is silent, Bush refuses to answer direct questions about what happened, Tony Snow tries to hedge about just how ill Ashcroft might have been (although he misidentifies the condition that put Ashcroft in the hospital in the first place) and none of the other witnesses (Ashcroft, Ashcroft's wife, Mueller, the FBI guards, hospital employees) have stepped forward to rebut one word of Comey's sworn testimony and I'm sure that reporters have been contacting most of them day and night.

So, exactly how many grains of salt are we supposed to take Comey's testimony with?
5.17.2007 2:36pm
Cornellian (mail):
We have Comey's version of events; Anyone think he might have some self interest here? There are also others who can provide their version

Ashcroft has declined to comment and I think we can all draw the appropriate inference from that. Gonzales will claim he doesn't remember. If Card wants to speak up, now's his chance, but I predict he won't.

I remember long ago reading some story about Ashcroft making some off the record comment about habeas corpus or military tribunals or some such thing. It was something along the lines of "even Tim McVeigh got a fair trial." So that plus this incident suggests Ashcroft, though he may be a partisan conservative, isn't a loyal Bushie and that's the one thing this Administration cannot tolerate.
5.17.2007 2:39pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kaz: "Was there any evidence whatsover that Card and Gonzales were intending to eject them [Comey]"

Yes. Gonzales and Card chose to visit Ashcroft at night, without notifying Comey. They were clearly interested in getting something from Ashcroft that they had not been able to get from Comey.

Take a moment to consider how sick Ashcroft was. He was 61. Pancreatitis causes excruciating pain. He had been in the ICU for five days prior to the surgery. His case was "pretty severe," and the doctors had been waiting until he was "stable enough to withstand surgery." The day before the visit he had been in surgery for 90 minutes. After the surgery he was listed in "guarded" condition. Post-surgery, it was expected that he would have to remain in the hospital for "at least four days." Mrs. Ashcroft had banned all visitors and calls, and darkened the room. Ashcroft was sick enough that he did indeed remain in the hospital for several more days, and it would be several weeks before he returned to work.

Despite all this, they visited him, intending to commit the patently unethical act of trying to get a drugged, sick person to sign an important legal document. They weren't just there to talk or to get his views: Gonzales was holding an envelope containing the form he wanted Ashcroft to sign.

All this tends to create the impression that they were very highly motivated to speak to Ashcroft. And it's obvious that they had an interest in Comey not being present, and they behaved in a manner to make it unlikely that Comey would be present.
5.17.2007 2:54pm
Kazinski:
I trust without reservation Comey's version of the facts. What I don't trust is his interpretation of Card and Gonzales intentions and his fevered imaginings of what they might do. The facts clearly speak for themselves, there was no attempt to eject Comey from the room, when he actually did go to the White House and meet with Bush they came to a agreement that both could live with.

I don't see how my doubts about Comey's interpretation of the facts could be called "Swiftboating". After all the definition of Swiftboating is:


The airing of facts or opinions that must be suppressed at all costs because debating these facts or trying to refute the opinions will just make them more credible.


This all kind of reminds me of the fevered imaginings that were going on at the hieght of Watergate, when people were speculating about the Nixon Adminstration being the hub of an enormous black operations web that had completely subverted the democratic process. What the Nixon Adminstration did was bad enough, but they meekly submitted themselves to the democratic and legal process, resigned, slunk out of Washington, or did their time as it was apportioned. All of the huge conspiricy theories evaporated into thin air, and Watergate is just a testimate to how well the system works to right itself when things get out of whack.

And of course the big difference between the Bush and the Nixon Administrations is that there isn't even any credible allegations of any illegal acts committed by the Bush Administration.
5.17.2007 2:56pm
Steve:
And BTW: I dont have a dog in this fight; I dont care who said what to whom, I don't like the AG, but I am questioning how supposedly intelligent and highly educated people can glom on to ONE version of a complex event and discern reality.

And that has what to do with the Duke rape case? Here's the analogy you're looking for: imagine if the lacrosse players hadn't denied the rape. Imagine if the purported victim had described a gang rape in lurid detail, and the players had simply denied comment. Would we truly not be entitled to presume at some point (not as a legal matter, mind you, but as a practical matter) that if it was all made up, they probably would have denied it?

President Bush was asked today if he personally dispatched Card and Gonzales to Ashcroft's hospital room to try and get his signature. If that was a ridiculous allegation, it would have been very easy for him to say so. Instead, he said that he "wasn't going to talk about it."

It's basic common sense to conclude that if he refuses to deny the allegation, the most likely explanation is that it's true. And if you deny that such a conclusion is common sense, then I have to question your credibility in claiming that you're simply an objective observer with no dog in the fight.

As for the Godwin's Law reference, it's because the Duke lacrosse players constantly get brought up any time anyone is accused of anything (even, as we see here, when the person hasn't even denied the accusation!) and it's getting very old. President Bush is not a helpless victim of a runaway prosecutor. All he has to do is say "no, I never did anything like that."
5.17.2007 2:59pm
rarango (mail):
Badger: All I have said is this: that all anyone has at this point is one persons version of reality. There may be many reasons why other people havent given their versions. You may connect all the dots you want based upon your interpretation of events, but no matter how you interpret them, you are doing so without all the facts. If you don't recognize that, I am not going to convince you otherwise.

And I didnt say Comey's version is distorted. I am sure it is how he perceived things.

Badger: Let me recommend to you the 1950 Movie Rashomon. It can it explain what I am trying to argue here, better than I can.
5.17.2007 3:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
We routinely sentence people to *death* based on "ONE version of a complex event." Did you not know that?
5.17.2007 3:05pm
rarango (mail):
Steve: let me stipulate that reasoning from analogy is a basic logical error; that said, the duke rape case was, IMO, a rush to judgment. Perhaps you do not that some on this thread are making some rather sweeping interpretations of events and subsequently making judgments based on those interpretations. I personally regard that as a "rush to judgment;" just as the group of 88 on the Duke faculty arrived at their positions.

All you have argued to me is that you would take silence as assent--you may not regard that as a rush to judgment, I do. Fair enough?

(and seriously, I do appreciate your point about the distinction between a practical and legal matter; its what distinguishes the rule of law from mob rule)

And finally, why should Bush put an oar in the water on this one: He told the justice department to do the right thing. Isnt that self explanatory?
5.17.2007 3:13pm
Kazinski:
Thank you Jukeboxgrad, for making my case for me (with an assist from Comey):

Take a moment to consider how sick Ashcroft was. He was 61. Pancreatitis causes excruciating pain. He had been in the ICU for five days prior to the surgery. His case was "pretty severe," and the doctors had been waiting until he was "stable enough to withstand surgery."


Now Comey:

And so I raced to the hospital room, entered. And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed, Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn't clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off.


Comey's conduct was at least as bad as Card and Gonzales'. It seems to me that if Comey is really so concerned about Ashcroft's health then he isn't going to go down there and make things worse by jabbering at him in the dark.

And as for your answer to my question was there any evidence that they tried or even intended to try to eject Comey:

Yes. Gonzales and Card chose to visit Ashcroft at night, without notifying Comey. They were clearly interested in getting something from Ashcroft that they had not been able to get from Comey.

That's evidence? And if their visit to Ashcroft was such a deep dark secret, how did Comey get there first?
5.17.2007 3:26pm
Steve:
And finally, why should Bush put an oar in the water on this one: He told the justice department to do the right thing. Isnt that self explanatory?

Of course not. It makes a huge difference whether Bush simply told the Justice Department to do the right thing, or whether Bush first told Gonzales and Card to try an end run around Comey by going to the hospital, and after that didn't work, only then told the Justice Department to do the right thing.

The principle that we should wait for everyone to tell their side of the story is an admirable one, but it loses its effectiveness if we must continue waiting even after people have consciously chosen not to tell their side of the story. In fact, defending someone who has said "no comment" by claiming that we can't decide anything until that person tells their story is extremely tedious.
5.17.2007 3:40pm
Kovarsky (mail):
rarango,

let me assure you, from experience endlessly dissecting rashoman, that its relevance to this situation is little more than a cinematic illustration of the principle that events are capable of being saddled with different interpretations.

of course, you and kazinski would have us abandon all judgment and common sense, take that principle to an extreme that i can assure you kurusawa would find repulsive, and refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing until george bush, dick cheney, karl rove, andy card, and AGAG hold hands and stare directly into the camera admitting their roles in the debacle.

kazinski, your unflinching committment to the most idiotic possible arguments (Comey done Ashcroft wrong as much as Card and Gonzales did) would be funny if it were not the case that I'm guessing that you are allowed to vote.
5.17.2007 3:48pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Kazinski,

That's evidence? And if their visit to Ashcroft was such a deep dark secret, how did Comey get there first?

Uh, because Mrs. Ashcroft called him, like the, uh, transcript says.
5.17.2007 3:52pm
rarango (mail):
kovarsky: Your first paragraph was my fundamental point, and we are in total agreement on that; I can't and wont speak for kazinski, but I was not asking anyone to abandon all judgment and common sense; merely to suspend judgment. Nothing more--nothing less. Fair enough? You inferred much more from my posts than I intended. If I misled you, it was not intentional.
5.17.2007 3:54pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Rarango,

I just sense the call to withhold judgment to be a little disingenuous. "I do not have a dog in this fight" does not follow from "I do not like AGAG," so I'm not afraid to say that it seems fairly clear where your rooting interests lie.

Comey, a man for whom everyone who has ever met him appears willing to swear on their children for, testified under oath, before Congress to these events. The corraborate much information that we already know. Unless we reasonably anticipate the administration to address the issue forthrightly (rather than get the Snow-job we got from the WH), there is no logical reason to "withhold judgment" in the sense that we should refrain from condemning the action as inappropriate.
5.17.2007 4:01pm
Kazinski:
Kovarsky,
Not only am I allowed to vote but my candidate of choice has won the last two Presidential elections.


And please tell me, didn't Comey do just exactly what Gonzales and Card are accused of doing? Going down to the hospital bed of a sick man and try to get him to take their side in an arguement?
5.17.2007 4:03pm
byomtov (mail):
to suspend judgment

Waiting for what, exactly? Gonzales, Bush, Card, have had an opportunity to claim Comey's account is inaccurate or otherwise to comment on it. They have chosen not to. Why should anyone now "suspend judgment?"
5.17.2007 4:16pm
Steve:
And please tell me, didn't Comey do just exactly what Gonzales and Card are accused of doing? Going down to the hospital bed of a sick man and try to get him to take their side in an arguement?

Face it, Kovarsky, you're punching above your weight class here. This guy has arguments Tony Snow can only dream of.
5.17.2007 4:20pm
rarango (mail):
Kovarsky: Sense what you like. I dislike your calling me a liar. I have not impugned anybody's motivations nor do I call people on this board names. OK?
5.17.2007 4:22pm
badger (mail):

Let me recommend to you the 1950 Movie Rashomon. It can it explain what I am trying to argue here, better than I can.

I've seen Rashomon many times, but I don't remember the scenes where the Bandit gives his version of the story, referrs to several other people in the woods who could verify his story, has several prominent Japanese officials testify to his trustworthiness, followed by scenes where the woman and the dead man's ghost's medium both refuse to given an account of what happened.

Was that in the director's cut or something? Thank god for editors!
5.17.2007 4:23pm
Felix Sulla (mail):

And please tell me, didn't Comey do just exactly what Gonzales and Card are accused of doing? Going down to the hospital bed of a sick man and try to get him to take their side in an arguement?
Nope. Comey was just fine with leaving Ashcroft to recuperate in peace, which is after all what Mrs. Ashcroft wanted as well. And it wasn't about getting Ashcroft to take his side: they had agreed on the matter a week prior. It was Mrs. Ashcroft who let Comey know what was happening...presumably, so that he could come down and make sure that Gonzo and Card *didn't* try to get a sick man to take their side. I feel this is not a hard point to grasp, Kazinski.
5.17.2007 4:29pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Rarango,

I'm not calling you a liar. I'm just saying that you do not establish your neutrality by revealing your distaste for AGAG. The fact is that this incident is as much about Card, Bush, Cheney, and Addington as it is about Gonzales.
5.17.2007 4:33pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Face it, Kovarsky, you're punching above your weight class here. This guy has arguments Tony Snow can only dream of.

I confess to being a huge Tony Snow fan. He's what Brit Hume could only wish to be. That being said, his whole "What? Just because he had an appendectomy means he can't think" quip was way, way beneath him.
5.17.2007 4:35pm
rarango (mail):
In that case, Kovarsky--let me be perfectly clear: I am a person who prefers to support policies with which I agree and not the people that propose them. Now I do not happen to "like" the Atty General because he, like many of his predecessors has politicized the office beyond the bounds of what I, as a citizen, prefer it to be. I could honestly give a good goddamn about these inside the beltway fights that only a small bunch of insiders pay attention to.

I would prefer that this and any administration for that matter, and the congress, take care of social security, health care, medicare, and illegal immigration.
No, you didnt call me a liar, but you sure implied it. The term "disengenuous" carries that baggage with it.

So let me say so even you can understand it: I dont give a damn about this whole dustup. Clear enough?
5.17.2007 4:43pm
JosephSlater (mail):
If there was an "outstanding post of the day" or even week on the VC -- and personally, I think there should be -- Badger's brilliant bit on the Rashomon analogy would win, just edging some of Kovarsky's fine efforts.
5.17.2007 4:44pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Not only am I allowed to vote but my candidate of choice has won the last two Presidential elections.

Uh, am I rubber and you glue or do I have it backwards?
5.17.2007 4:49pm
Kovarsky (mail):
rarango,

i'm losing your point? if you were not advocating "witholding judgment" because we only had one version of the events (that is your painful rashoman analogy, i believe), then what are you advocating?
5.17.2007 4:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Tony Snow tries to hedge about just how ill Ashcroft might have been (although he misidentifies the condition that put Ashcroft in the hospital in the first place)'

I've had acute pancreatitis, with a course similar to what is described for Ashcroft. I was hallucinating for days during the stage that was equivalent to the Comey/Gonzales visit to Ashcroft and was totally out of it.

Ashcroft today probably has no idea what was going on, which could explain his silence.

If it's true that he raised his head and made a decision, well, he's a tougher man than I.
5.17.2007 5:03pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
If there was an "outstanding post of the day" or even week on the VC -- and personally, I think there should be -- Badger's brilliant bit on the Rashomon analogy would win

Seconded.
5.17.2007 6:15pm
Kazinski:
Felix Sulla:
No, it was not "Mrs. Ashcroft who let Comey know what was happening". It was Ashcrofts chief of staff, and there was no testimony whatsover that Mrs. Ashcroft requested that Comey get involved, but that didn't stop Comey from going into panic mode:

So I hung up the phone, immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called Director Mueller and -- with whom I'd been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week -- and told him what was happening. He said, "I'll meet you at the hospital right now." Told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. I got out of the car and ran up -- literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.


I'd actually like to hear Mrs Ashcroft's version of events, she is actually the only one that had the AG's interests at heart, and I'd like to know if she told anyone "don't come down, he can't handle it now". If you look at Comey's version of the facts, and I believe him, his conduct was at least as bad Card and Gonzales'. The only thing he offers to mitigate his conduct is by characterizing his motives as pure and good.

I think his actions speak for themselves.
5.17.2007 6:32pm
Felix Sulla (mail):
Thought you might make a bother about the Mrs. Ashcroft having "let" him know, which is why I actually phrased it that way rather than saying Mrs. Ashcroft told Comey about what had happened.

*sigh*

Mrs. Ashcroft called Ashcroft's chief of staff. Ashcroft's Chief of Staff called Comey. Now, there is not a whole lot of room to maneuver on this unless you really want to be hopelessly obtuse on the matter: Mrs. Ashcroft wanted DoJ officials to know what was going on and act appropriately, i.e., make sure they were represented when Gonzo and Card got there. To believe otherwise defies any semblance of logic. It requires you to believe that Mrs. Ashcroft received a call from the White House begging her to allow Gonzo and Card to come and see her husband...and that she called the DoJ in relation to this but didn't want them to act on the information at all.

Everyone's actions speak for themselves here, some people are just not listening.
5.17.2007 6:56pm
Kazinski:
So Felix,
You were trying to characterize events and imply something which even Comey didn't try to assert? Comey didn't say that he thought Mrs. Ashcroft requested his presence, and there was certainly no implied request from Mrs. Ashcroft that "to get as many of [Comey's] people as possible to the hospital immediately." So lets just look at the facts without trying to imply what Mr. or Mrs. Ashcroft may or may not have wanted, as far as I know neither one is deceased, and can still speak for themselves.

After 19 re-authorizations the DOJ, under Comey decides not to reauthorize a terrorist surveilenc program, so the WH had to reauthorize the plan without DOJ concurence because the WH thought the program was vital to the safety and security of the country. Of course I guess they didn't have any real need to keep tabs on the terroists or any possible sleeper cells that might be planning attacks:
COMEY: The program was reauthorized without us and without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality. And I prepared a letter of resignation, intending to resign the next day, Friday, March the 12th.
SCHUMER: OK. And that was the day, as I understand it, of the Madrid train bombings.
COMEY: Thursday, March 11th, was the morning of the Madrid train bombings.


I guess the WH had nothing to be concerned about.
5.17.2007 7:42pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Kazinski wrote:
You were trying to characterize events and imply something which even Comey didn't try to assert? Comey didn't say that he thought Mrs. Ashcroft requested his presence[.]
Mrs. Aschroft called the AG's chief of staff. The chief of staff normally reported to Ashcroft, but Ashcroft was not there -- and de facto was not even AG at the time -- because he was hospitalized and in no condition to do his job. Mrs. Ashcroft obviously knew this when she placed the call. So who do you think she wanted to come to the hospital if not Comey? The only other plausible answer is the chief of staff, which would be every bit as astonishing as wanting Comey there.

And of course if she really wanted the chief of staff to come to the hospital, he presumably would have. That Comey showed up instead implies either that he is the one Mrs. Ashcroft asked for or that he was much closer to the hospital and was sent in the chief's stead. It's hard to imagine the chief sending his boss without Mrs. Ashcroft's approval.
5.17.2007 9:14pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
anderson: "We routinely sentence people to *death* based on 'ONE version of a complex event.' Did you not know that?"

We also recently went to war based on scraps of bogus data that consistently failed to even rise to the level of being 'ONE version of a complex event.' At least given what we mean by "version," in this instance: a sworn account by a highly credible eyewitness, examined by both R and D senators, and made available to the public in unedited video and transcript form.

harry: "If it's true that he raised his head and made a decision"

He didn't have to make a decision. He had already made it. He simply raised his head and emphatically stated the decision he had already made. Which was of course still an admirable act, considering the circumstances.

rarango: "You may connect all the dots you want based upon your interpretation of events, but no matter how you interpret them, you are doing so without all the facts … Rashomon"

One of the great hallmarks of Bushism is highly selective skepticism. When it's time to march to war, all we need are statements from a known drunken liar named Curveball and some forged documents. It was perfectly fine to arrange an invasion even though we were "doing so without all the facts." But when we're confronted with the plain meaning of sworn testimony from a highly credible witness, and with lots of other living witnesses staying pointedly mum, we suddenly find ourselves in a film seminar discussing the Rashomon effect. Nice. How effete of you. And that's aside from the fact that you're completely rewriting the plot of Rashomon, as badger pointed out in a highly entertaining manner.

"some on this thread are making some rather sweeping interpretations of events"

It would help if you could demonstrate an example of such a thing, i.e., someone on this thread offering a "sweeping interpretation" that is not well-grounded in the facts described by Comey.

"why should Bush put an oar in the water on this one: He told the justice department to do the right thing"

You're easily impressed. Bush "told the justice department to do the right thing" only after Comey et al staunchly refused to do the wrong thing. Bush discovered the path of virtue only after he was confronted by the fact that all his more familiar paths were blocked, by various honest men who had managed to sneak into his administration.

"I was not asking anyone to abandon all judgment and common sense; merely to suspend judgment"

Your suggestion is that we "suspend" judgment until when? Indefinitely? You said earlier "until all the versions are in." Do you actually think "all the versions" are likely to arrive, say, before hell freezes over?
5.17.2007 10:49pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
kaz: "What I don't trust is his interpretation of Card and Gonzales intentions and his fevered imaginings of what they might do."

Two minutes before you posted those words I answered them. Our messages sort of crossed in the mail.

"The facts clearly speak for themselves"

The facts leave little room for confusion about "Card and Gonzales intentions." Comey didn't indulge in "fevered imaginings." He made highly rational assessments.

"there was no attempt to eject Comey from the room"

I think Gonzales was savvy enough to catch on to the fact that the head of the FBI had instructed multiple armed men to prevent such a thing from happening. As far as we know, Gonzales was armed only with an envelope and a pen.

Gonzales was probably also savvy enough to realize Comey was there because he had been invited by Mrs. Ashcroft, while Gonzales had not been invited by Mrs. Ashcroft. Gonzales was in a position to guess that Mrs. Ashcroft would not be happy if Comey left before Gonzales did. It seems that she's a tough lady; she must have known that the president's men would not be happy to discover that she had summoned Comey, but she did so anyway. It's possible she scared Alberto even more than the g-men did.

"was there any evidence that they tried or even intended to try to eject Comey"

In the end they didn't dare try. But it was utterly reasonable for Comey to assume they didn't want him there. They didn't even acknowledge his presence. Gonzales was acting in a highly unethical, inappropriate manner, simply by making this visit, in this way, at this time, and for this purpose. It was utterly reasonable for Comey to be concerned that Gonzales might try all sorts of shenanigans that might be hard to predict, given that Gonzales was already behaving unethically.

"Comey's conduct was at least as bad as Card and Gonzales'."

Uh, no, unless you think Mrs. Ashcroft shouldn't be trusted to make smart decisions about Mr. Ashcroft's welfare. As has been pointed out, Comey was there because she wanted him there. He was there because of a series of phone calls that she initiated. She would have preferred no visitors at all, but once she heard that Gonzales had invited himself, she decided it was in Mr. Ashcroft's best interest for Comey to be there too. And presumably she did not expect that Comey would show up and then say nothing to Ashcroft.

And Comey had a duty to speak to Ashcroft. At that moment, Comey was attorney general. He understood that he was about to witness (and then he did indeed witness) the White House counsel perform a highly unethical act: trying to get an ill, drugged person to sign an important legal document. (And this aside from the fact that Ashcroft was not then the AG, and therefore did not have the authority to sign the document. And this also aside from the fact that Bush was wasting everyone's time, because in the end he decided he didn't even need any stinking DOJ signature, after all.)

Comey had reached a professional judgment that this document should not receive a DOJ signature. He knew that Ashcroft shared this judgment. Comey knew that Gonzales was about to try "to take advantage of a very sick man." It was Comey's duty, both personally and professionally, to prevent this from happening. This required speaking to Ashcroft.

"didn't Comey do just exactly what Gonzales and Card are accused of doing? Going down to the hospital bed of a sick man and try to get him to take their side in an arguement?"

As has already been pointed out by me and others, there's a world of difference between arriving invited vs. arriving uninvited. And as Felix explained, you're being disingenuous to suggest that Comey needed to "try to get him [Ashcroft] to take their [Comey's] side in an arguement." Comey already knew that Ashcroft and Comey had the same view. Comey was not there to change Ashcroft's mind. He had no need to do so. That's what Gonzales needed to do, and intended to do. Comey was there to warn Ashcroft that some highly unethical people were planning to exploit his condition.

"if their visit to Ashcroft was such a deep dark secret, how did Comey get there first?"

He got there only minutes ahead, and only because Mrs. Ashcroft launched a series of calls that luckily resulted in finding Comey, and Comey being available.

It's clear enough that Gonzales tried to keep the visit secret. He could have done only one more thing to make it more secret: not have Bush call Mrs. Ashcroft ahead of time. But Gonzales understood that showing up completely unannounced would have been even more ghoulish, and unwise for all sorts of reasons. I think Bush and Gonzales made a rational assessment that Mrs. Ashcroft would put up relatively less resistance if she was first softened up with a personal request directly from Bush.

"there isn't even any credible allegations of any illegal acts committed by the Bush Administration"

You're wrong, for a long list of reasons. Here's one: Bush violated FISA. He basically admitted as much. And he continued with the violation even though his own AG explicitly refused to certify that Bush's program was legal. This rises to at least the level of a 'credible allegation' of an illegal act.

"my candidate of choice has won the last two Presidential elections"

When a candidate loses the popular vote and then has to be installed by the Supremes, claiming "won" is a case of using that word loosely. Especially given what we later learned about the potential effect of recounts that didn't happen. And the 2% popular-vote margin in 2004 was also not exactly a stunning mandate, either.

"there was no testimony whatsover that Mrs. Ashcroft requested that Comey get involved"

A reasonable inference from Comey's testimony is that she called for help and that call for help was forwarded to Comey. If she didn't want Comey, or someone like Comey, to arrive, then it's hard to imagine what she was hoping to accomplish by her phone call.

"Comey didn't say that he thought Mrs. Ashcroft requested his presence"

The fact of her making a call is enough to indicate she was requesting the presence of someone. As Ashcroft's #2 and as acting AG, Comey was the most logical someone.

"that didn't stop Comey from going into panic mode"

Comey understood that unethical people were planning to take advantage of a sick man. Comey had a personal and professional duty to intervene.

"I'd like to know if she told anyone 'don't come down, he can't handle it now' "

We know that she did. Comey testified that "she had banned all visitors and all phone calls." Gonzales visited anyway. She made a phone call for the obvious purpose of summoning someone who could help her with this.

"So lets just look at the facts without trying to imply what Mr. or Mrs. Ashcroft may or may not have wanted"

I notice you're not reluctant to imply that from her perspective, Comey and Gonzales were equally unwelcome. Why are you "trying to imply what Mr. or Mrs. Ashcroft may or may not have wanted?"

"I'd actually like to hear Mrs Ashcroft's version of events"

Don't hold your breath waiting. She's free to speak, if she feels Comey has distorted the record. Her silence is probably not meaningless.

"as far as I know neither one is deceased, and can still speak for themselves"

Let us know when they return your phone message. Yes, they can certainly "speak for themselves." And right about now would be a good time to do so. But, quite noticeably, they have not done so. I wonder how you interpret this decision on their part.

If they had anything critical to say regarding Comey's account, a certain President would be very happy to hear their voice right now. Why are they passing up a chance to serve both the truth and our President? You've adopted a position that can't be defended without answering this question.

"After 19 re-authorizations"

You don't actually know that there were 19. I thought you've been encouraging us to avoid unwarranted assumptions.

"the DOJ, under Comey decides not to reauthorize a terrorist surveilenc program"

Nice job glossing over the fact that the DOJ under Ashcroft had already made that decision, before he became ill and turned the job over to Comey.

"the WH had to reauthorize the plan without DOJ concurence because the WH thought the program was vital to the safety and security of the country"

The WH is obliged to protect "the safety and security of the country," but they are also obliged to do so using means that are legal.

"I guess they didn't have any real need to keep tabs on the terroists"

Nice job glossing over the fact that FISA allows the WH "to keep tabs on the terroists," via the use of warrants that are easily obtained from the very compliant FISA court, which can even operate retroactively via the 72-hour rule.

You don't have to explain why the WH needs "to keep tabs on the terroists." However, you do need to explain why the WH was so determined to hide their activities from the FISA court.
5.17.2007 10:59pm
Anderson (mail) (www):
Kicking ass &taking names, JBG!
5.17.2007 11:57pm
Kazinski:
Jukeboxgrad,
I hope you've been drinking and that your comment above isn't the product of a sober mind. All we have to go on is Comey's version of events and not even Comey's overactive imagination goes so far as to even imply half your assertions. Probably one reason why is because Mr. or Mrs. Ashcroft could contradict him if he did so.

And here is more of what Comey had to say:


But listen to what Mr. Comey actually said as Mr. Specter questioned him. Was he pressured by Mr. Card, Senator Specter asked? No. "I don't know that he tried to pressure me, other than to engage me on the merits and make clear his strong disagreements with my conclusion."

Did they threaten him, or suggest he could be fired? "No sir, I didn't feel threatened, nor did he say anything that could reasonably be read [as threatening]." And what about Mr. Bush, did he twist arms in the Oval? Through FBI director Robert Mueller, Mr. Comey explained, "The President said the Justice Department should do what the Department thinks is right."

So where's the smoking gun here? When the program was reauthorized by the President alone, Mr. Comey and others planned to resign in protest. So, Mr. Specter asked, does that mean the program went forward illegally? Again, negative: "The Justice Department's certification . . . was not [required] as far as I know."



Comey is a good guy and is an honest man even if he is somewhat of a drama queen. I liked Alexander Haig too when he was at State, but he was always threatening to resign over something or other, and he was just shocked when Reagan accepted his resignation. Comey seems to have the same problem of just taking himself and his supposed perogatives too seriously.

I certainly hope I don't have any more mispellings, but I don't care enough to spell check it or proof read it, you're welcome to do it for me if you like Jukeboxgrad.
5.18.2007 1:39am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Anderson, thanks for the kind words. Folks like kaz make it so easy.

kaz: "I hope you've been drinking"

When I can get my hands on one I like a good egg cream. But the trouble with drinking while blogging is that I read someone like you and suddenly the beverage is coming out of my nose.

"not even Comey's overactive imagination goes so far as to even imply half your assertions"

You've provided a stunning number of examples showing that Comey has an "overactive imagination:" zero. Likewise for the number of times that you've demonstrated that I've offered an assertion not supported by fact.

What are you waiting for? There's no time like the present. This would be a good place to start: explain the purpose of her phone call, if her intention was not to summon Comey or someone like Comey.

We also haven't heard you comment on the ethics of handing a legal document and a pen to someone who was probably stoned on morphine.

We also haven't heard you comment on the ethics of treating Ashcroft as if he had legal authority which he did not have, since he had transferred that authority to Comey.

We also haven't heard you explain how you know there were "19 re-authorizations." Gonzales is implicitly insisting that the old program and the new program are two different animals. Bush's claims about a 45-day review were nominally about the new program. Why are you extending this claim to an earlier, different program?

We also haven't heard you explain how you know the changes in the program were "modest." Why would multiple senior people be ready to resign over changes that are "modest?" And if they were "modest," why is Gonzales taking the position that we're talking about two entirely different programs? This is a very fundamental contradiction in the hastily-constructed Bushist narrative. Sometimes it's convenient to suggest that the program was changed only slightly. Then again, sometimes it's convenient to suggest that there were two entirely different programs.

We also haven't heard you explain why Bush led to believe that everything he did had DOJ approval. We now know that this was a lie.

We also haven't heard you explain why Bush demanded this charade, since he was obviously willing to dispense with the DOJ signature.

We also haven't heard you explain why you falsely implied ("try to get him to take their side") that Ashcroft hadn't already sided with Comey.

We also haven't heard you explain why you falsely implied ("the DOJ, under Comey decides not to reauthorize"), that Ashcroft hadn't already decided "not to reauthorize" before he became ill and passed authority to Comey.

We also haven't heard you explain why you falsely implied ("I'd like to know if she told anyone 'don't come down' ") that she hadn't already banned all visitors.

We also haven't heard you explain why Mueller went along with Comey's "overactive imagination" with regard to the idea that Bush's thugs might try to eject Comey from the room.

We also haven't heard you explain why you described a period of 30 months as "more than three years."

We also haven't heard you explain what Bush was doing that was so egregious that his own senior appointees were willing to resign in order to force him to stop.

We also haven't heard you explain why Bush needed to not only wiretap, but wiretap without a warrant.

We also haven't heard you explain why all the other witnesses (including and especially the Ashcrofts) are now pointedly silent. If your narrative is corrective, they now have an obvious opportunity and duty to defend the truth and our president. Why are they not doing so?

And I'm sure I've missed a few.

"So, Mr. Specter asked, does that mean the program went forward illegally? Again, negative"

Nice job for distorting what Comey actually said, just like WSJ did. Yes, Comey refused to say directly that what Bush did was illegal. That's because Comey was acknowledging the possibility that Bush had the right to ignore DOJ's ruling. But both you and WSJ are trying hard to deny the fact of what DOJ ruled, which Comey said repeatedly:

Our legal analysis was that we couldn't find an adequate legal basis for aspects of this matter. And for that reason, I couldn't certify it to its legality. …

It went forward without certification from the Department of Justice as to its legality …

something was going forward that we had said we could not certify as to its legality …

We had concerns as to our ability to certify its legality, which was our obligation for the program to be renewed …

I would not certify the program as to its legality …

The program was reauthorized without us and without a signature from the Department of Justice attesting as to its legality …

something was going forward without the Department of Justice's certification as to its legality …

it was going forward even though I had communicated, 'I cannot approve this as to its legality.' …


"I don't care enough to spell check it or proof read it"

We already know that. But that's much less important than the fact that you're determined to duck numerous material questions, and you're determined to invent your own facts, as I've demonstrated. Here's one of many differences between me and you: when I make claims like this, I show proof.
5.18.2007 3:13am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Oh yeah, here's a good one I forgot. We also haven't heard you explain why it doesn't amount to a "credible allegation" of illegality when Bush goes forward with a program that his own DOJ has explicitly refused to certify as legal.

And speaking of ducking fair questions, it's interesting to notice how you follow in the footsteps of the Ducker-in-Chief (video).
5.18.2007 3:30am
Felix Sulla (mail):
jukeboxgrad: If you're ever in my neck of the woods, I'll buy you all the egg creams you might desire. Myself, I'll be drinking Jack Daniel's and toasting Mr. and Mrs. Ashcroft....something I never in my wildest dreams thought I might be inclined to do even a month ago. ;-)
5.18.2007 10:16am
Kazinski:
Jukeboxgrad,
I haven't implied anything falsly or not, nor have I invented any facts, I trust Comey's version of facts absolutely. I'm just not willing to read a novel in between the lines. But I would like the answers to these questions:


Did Mrs. Ashcroft tell Card and Gonzales not to come?
Did she tell Comey to come down?
Did she ask him to bring all his people?
Did she tell him to use emergency lights on his vehicle?
Did Card or Gonzales try to have him removed from the room?



I really don't know the answers to these questions, but you do seem certain of the answers, without any evidence to support you. And it does seem to me the product of a fevered imagination that Card and Gonzales would try to have Comey removed from the room, unless of course Mrs. Ashcroft wanted him removed, which may have been what he was worried about. But I certainly don't know, and neither do you.

Now as for the terrorist monitorng program, here is what FISA Judge Kornbluth had to say:
As you know, in article I section 8, Congress has enumerated powers as well as the power to legislate all enactments necessary and proper to their specific authorities. And I believe that's what the president has, similar authority to take executive action necessary and proper to carry out his enumerated responsibilities, of which today we're only talking about surveillance of Americans.

So if a FISA judge doesn't think the program is illegal, I'm supposed to take your word for it?
5.18.2007 1:42pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Felix, I appreciate the invitation. And if we can't find a good egg cream, I'll settle for a Yoo-hoo.

kaz: "I haven't implied anything falsly or not, nor have I invented any facts"

I've already proven that you did both, multiple times.

You're doing the usual Bushist thing, which is to deny the existence of any and all proof that causes you trouble. This is very tedious. Also tedious is your belief that you have the right to repeatedly duck simple and fair questions while also asking lots of your own, which I do not duck.

"Did Mrs. Ashcroft tell Card and Gonzales not to come?"

She had banned all visitors. Let us know if your special Bushist dictionary has a peculiar definition for the word "all."

"Did she tell Comey to come down?"

You have pointedly neglected to even hint at any other conceivable motivation for her phone call.

"Did she ask him to bring all his people?"

Nice job falsely implying that he brought "all" his people. Or that "all" his people were actually in the room, rather than just at the hospital.

"Did she tell him to use emergency lights on his vehicle?"

It's fair to infer that she communicated a sense of urgency to the person who conveyed her message to Comey. I also explained why Comey was obliged to be there at the right time, for personal and professional reasons.

"Did Card or Gonzales try to have him removed from the room?"

I have already commented on this aspect in detail. Maybe you're using special equipment that automatically fails to display information which causes you trouble.

"you do seem certain of the answers, without any evidence to support you"

Uh, no. I've described in detail how my assertions are supported by the facts that Comey described. Meanwhile, you've made various counterfactual assertions that are supported by nothing.

"it does seem to me the product of a fevered imagination that Card and Gonzales would try to have Comey removed from the room"

Nice job doing the usual Bushist thing, which is to repeat your specious claims while completely ignoring what I've already said in response.

"if a FISA judge doesn't think the program is illegal"

Nice job removing any lingering doubt with regard to your lack of integrity. You're implying that Kornblum was specifically claiming that Bush had a right to do what he did for 30 months prior to the hospital visit. That's 100% baloney. Kornblum was only making a general statement about the issues behind FISA. Here's how the Washington Times summarized this:

The five judges testifying before the committee said they could not speak specifically to the NSA listening program without being briefed on it, but that a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act does not override the president's constitutional authority to spy on suspected international agents under executive order.

Power Line said this:

several of the judges said that they could not opine on the NSA program, since they didn't know its details

Kornblum specifically said this:

I … further disclaim that we will not be testifying today with regard to the present program implemented by President Bush.

The main reason we're not going to discuss that program is because we've never been briefed on it, we don't know what it involves, and we're not in a position to comment intelligently about it.


One more time: your claim ("if a FISA judge doesn't think the program is illegal") is pure baloney.

Kornblum did not know the details of what Bush had been doing for 30 months, and was not pretending to rule on that activity. Comey et al did know those details, and were prepared to resign in order to force Bush to stop.
5.18.2007 3:47pm
Charlie from Balkin (mail):
Kazinski -- here are some more questions to be answered:

Did either Card or Gonzales know OLC was even reviewing this program BEFORE Comey told them of his decision on Tuesday, March 9th?
Did they reasonably think Comey must have misunderstood Ashcroft's assent?
Was there any classified intelligence about a planned terrorist attack for Friday of that week which Comey didn't have access to but was now threatening to pull the plug on Thursday?
Was there any other classified intelligence that Comey did not have access to that would have influenced his (or, more importantly, Ashcroft's) decision?

I think you are on the right track about Mrs. Ashcroft. There are plenty of other reasonable explanations for how Comey found out other than "Mrs. Ashcroft knew the program was illegal as well." It seems like you and I are the only two hold-out jurors from that old black and white moview . . .
5.19.2007 10:28am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
charlie: "Did either Card or Gonzales know OLC was even reviewing this program BEFORE Comey told them of his decision on Tuesday, March 9th?"

Goldsmith had been on the job for months. Surely Gonzales knew this. Goldsmith did not do his analysis overnight. It's reasonable to presume that he was sniffing around and asking lots of sticky questions for quite some time. Unless Gonzales had his fingers stuffed in his ears, then surely he got wind of this.

"Did they reasonably think Comey must have misunderstood Ashcroft's assent?"

This would be the proper way to address that concern: for Gonzales to ask Comey "are you sure you did not misunderstand Ashcroft's assent." If Comey could not he trusted to answer such a question in a reliable manner, then he should not have been allowed to be a janitor at DOJ, let alone DAG.

It's hysterically funny to consider your implied assumption, that a sober Comey could not be expected to answer this question reliably, but it would be reliable to pose the corresponding question to Ashcroft while he was filled to the gills with morphine. Maybe you've never had any and therefore find it hard to grasp this point.

At the critical time, Comey had authority to sign the form, and Ashcroft did not. This was for good reason.

"Was there any classified intelligence about a planned terrorist attack for Friday of that week which Comey didn't have access to but was now threatening to pull the plug on Thursday?"

Maybe you've never heard of the FISA court, which grants warrants on a highly-compliant basis. It even grants them on a 72-hour retroactive basis.

"Was there any other classified intelligence that Comey did not have access to that would have influenced his (or, more importantly, Ashcroft's) decision?"

Please exercise your imagination and tell us how FISA and the FISA court were somehow not adequate to respond effectively to your hypothetical scenario.

Anyway, FISA is a law. If you believe it's a threat to our safety, the proper remedy is not to break the law. The proper remedy is to get your Republican (at the time) congress to fix it. Unless, of course, what you're really trying to accomplish is snooping that no congress or FISA court would ever approve.

"There are plenty of other reasonable explanations for how Comey found out other than 'Mrs. Ashcroft knew the program was illegal as well.' "

I don't remember anyone saying that. I don't think it's necessary to believe that "Mrs. Ashcroft knew the program was illegal as well." I think it's only necessary to understand that she was savvy enough to realize that some unscrupulous people wanted to take advantage of her sick husband. She was hoping someone could show up and protect him.

If you have an alternate theory for what motivated her phone call, you should let us in on the secret and tell us what it is.
5.19.2007 12:39pm