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US Attorney-General Gonzales in serious trouble over perjury

If you are not related to the media or in politics, the troubles currently visiting Attorney-General may seem a bit incomprehensible. So what are the troubles facing the attorney-general ? He is facing questioning over the firing of some US attorneys. These are political appointments and they serve at the President’s discretion, so firing them should not be a problem. However, the whole investigation by the committee has been dogged by evasiveness from the Government side, something that gives the smell of blood to Congress politicians, and they eagerly await every trip by the Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales to Congress to give testimony so that they can whack him for the inconsistencies, something that even the Republican members of the panel indulge in. He has been shown to be not in control of the Justice department, and has refused to acknowledge orders that he has signed.
However, the latest dust-up is related to an older event, about the spying program initiated by the White House. This was a controversial top secret intelligence operation that had divided the legal community, with even the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft, refusing to clear it. The detail was about the nature of the intelligence operation that was in dispute. While the former attorney General, James Comey, has acknowledged that he and others were prepared to resign rather than legally clear the NSA program, the attorney general claims that the dispute was over another intelligence issue.

However, the testimony after that by the FBI Director, Robert Mueller III, acknowledges that the meeting and discussions at that time were about the NSA program, thus conclusively showing that the top legal officer of the country had committed perjury before a Congressional committee.

The director, Robert Mueller III, told the House Judiciary Committee that the confrontation was about the National Security Agency’s counterterrorist eavesdropping program, describing it as “an NSA program that has been much discussed.” His testimony was a serious blow to Gonzales, who insisted at a Senate hearing on Tuesday that there were no disagreements inside the Bush administration about the program at the time of those discussions or at any other time.
In a separate development, Senate Democrats, who were unaware of Mueller’s comments, demanded the appointment of a special counsel to investigate whether Gonzales committed perjury in his testimony on Tuesday about the intelligence dispute. The Senate Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, issued a subpoena to Karl Rove, the White House senior political adviser, and another presidential aide, J. Scott Jennings, for testimony about the dismissal of U.S. prosecutors, another issue that has dogged Gonzales.

It is almost universally acknowledged that after the repeated battering that Gonzales has had at the hands of Congress and the image of a Justice Department not totally in control of things, he would be on the way out. However, it would appear that President Bush is keeping him out of loyalty, otherwise for a man causing such serious image issues to the White House, his days would seem to be numbered.

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