Friday, June 8, 2007

Cheney Placed At Center Of Domestic Spying Scandal!

Yesterday's Washington Post reports:
Vice President Cheney told Justice Department officials that he disagreed with their objections to a secret surveillance program during a high-level White House meeting in March 2004, a former senior Justice official told senators yesterday.

The meeting came one day before White House officials tried to get approval for the same program from then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who lay recovering from surgery in a hospital, according to former deputy attorney general James B. Comey.
So, the Vice President was personally involved in authorizing Domestic Spying; and if you don't recall the macabre story about White House efforts to force ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to override DOJ objections, and also sign off on this baltantly illegal program, the Washington Post's editorial board had this to say:
JAMES B. COMEY, the straight-as-an-arrow former No. 2 official at the Justice Department, yesterday offered the Senate Judiciary Committee an account of Bush administration lawlessness so shocking it would have been unbelievable coming from a less reputable source. The episode involved a 2004 nighttime visit to the hospital room of then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft by Alberto Gonzales, then the White House counsel, and Andrew H. Card Jr., then the White House chief of staff. Only the broadest outlines of this visit were previously known: that Mr. Comey, who was acting as attorney general during Mr. Ashcroft's illness, had refused to recertify the legality of the administration's warrantless wiretapping program; that Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card had tried to do an end-run around Mr. Comey; that Mr. Ashcroft had rebuffed them.

Mr. Comey's vivid depiction, worthy of a Hollywood script, showed the lengths to which the administration and the man who is now attorney general were willing to go to pursue the surveillance program. First, they tried to coerce a man in intensive care -- a man so sick he had transferred the reins of power to Mr. Comey -- to grant them legal approval. Having failed, they were willing to defy the conclusions of the nation's chief law enforcement officer and pursue the surveillance without Justice's authorization. Only in the face of the prospect of mass resignations -- Mr. Comey, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and most likely Mr. Ashcroft himself -- did the president back down.
Yesterday's Post article states that this disclosure places Cheney more at the center of this scandal than had been known. For the first time, Cheney is shown to have been personally involved in attempting to override the Department of Justice's own ruling that Domestic Spying was illegal; and it indicates that the urgency of the White House's attempt to bully Ashcroft into authorizing the spying was directly linked.

It's now very clear: the White House knew they were breaking the law. The Vice President knew he was breaking the law. They wanted to use Ashcroft to provide political cover for their knowingly breaking the law. They were so desperate to use Ashcroft as political coverage for their knowingly breaking the law, that they attempted to storm into his hospital room and force him to sign something he might not have even been coherent enough to know he was signing!

And, as all Bush Administration scandals do, it gets even worse. Also from today's Post article:
Comey said that Cheney's office later blocked the promotion of a senior Justice Department lawyer, Patrick Philbin, because of his role in raising concerns about the surveillance.
In other words, a career professional whose professional opinion didn't accord with the White House's desire to break the law was punished for wanting the White House to do so.

Alberto Gonzales, Andrew Card, and Dick Cheney are criminals. They know it. We know it. It's time for Congress to act like they know it!

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