Gonzales’ Choice

This is what happens when a corrupt Administration doesn’t distribute the sinecures to all. (h/t MadDog)

Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on Tuesday defended the decision of his current successor, Eric H. Holder Jr., to investigate alleged prisoner abuse by CIA interrogators over President Obama’s desire to look forward.

"As chief prosecutor of the United States, he should make the decision on his own, based on the facts, then inform the White House," said Mr. Gonzales, who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush in 2005 and resigned in 2007.

(He goes on to say that if people exceeded guidelines, it is fair to punish them.)

And who can blame Fredo? Nora Dannehy is still investigating whether Alberto Gonzales politicized DOJ, picking and choosing cases and US Attorneys for political reasons. This offers an opportunity for him to defend the independence of the Attorney General, even if his statement contradicts all his actions in that position. It looks good, you know?

I’m particularly curious whether Gonzales’ statement is designed to forestall investigation in his role both in 2005 (when, the torture apologists claim, with only some accuracy, DOJ investigated but did not pursue these abuses) and/or his alleged role much earlier in the process, giving day to day approval for techniques used by the torturers?

I will say this though: welcome, AGAG! Let’s hear more from you on the importance of DOJ independence. Not because your words have any credibility. But because it suggests you might be willing to say more–much more–to defend yourself in the face of those who refused you a sinecure.

64 replies
  1. dopeyo says:

    interesting trick there, fredo. prosecute those who exceeded the guidelines. which makes the guidelines seem legal. which makes AGAG innocent.

    sorry, no amount of paperwork can make torture acceptable in America.

  2. pdaly says:

    Who thought to ask ex-AGAG a question?
    Maybe ex-AGAG was just happy for the attention.

    wrt to investigating and prosecuting people who exceeded guidelines:
    Is Gonzales referring to guidelines that were merely verbalized or guidelines written down but kept secret and hidden from the interrogators/torturers?

  3. MadDog says:

    I wonder if Fredo’s accomplices will understand the message Fredo is sending?

    Shorter Fredo: “There’s plenty more room under the bus!”

  4. maryo2 says:

    I think his saying “We worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters” is setting up his attempt to prove that he had acted “in good faith.”

  5. WilliamOckham says:

    Gonzales actually said this?

    I’ve talked to friends of mine in the CIA

    Alberto, Alberto. Lemme explain it to you. Nobody you met in Washington is your friend. Trust me.

  6. BoxTurtle says:

    Gonzo will be the first to crack. And I’d trade immunity to Gonzo for full, unvarnished testimony on everything. Gonzo knows where almost all of Bush’s bodies are buried, it’d be worth it.

    Even the wingnuts aren’t helping him much and the fact that the formar USAG cannot get a job in the legal or lobbying professions is telling. He’s got to be thinking his only hope is to turn states evidence, write a tell all book, and hit the rubber chicken circuit.

    Boxturtle (As I’ve said before, the first rat gets the best deal)

    • perris says:

      you know what?

      I wouldn’t even mind cutting bush a deal if it meant getting to cheney…though I would not be happy I’d take it

    • MadDog says:

      Fwiw, the link (33 page PDF) you posted is “supposedly” that of the Declaration Of Wendy M. Hilton, CIA.

      If you scroll to the last page of the PDF, you’ll note that Wendy signed it on August 31st, 2009.

      Now jump over to the ACLU’s page here, and open the document entitled ACLU v DOD, CIA – Declaration of Wendy M. Hilton, CIA (42 page PDF).

      If you scroll to the last page of that PDF, you’ll note that Wendy signed that one on August 28, 2009.

      Lastly, the two PDF documents are of different length, but both are “supposedly” that of the Declaration Of Wendy M. Hilton, CIA.

      I’ve not read through both quite yet, but I wonder what the difference in date and size mean.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        That seems strange. I’m not sure what that means. I’m going to call the ACLU to find out what that’s all about.

      • JasonLeopold says:

        From Rachel over at the ACLU:

        These are 2 different declarations from 2 different ACLU FOIA lawsuits – one for OLC/IG docs and one for the transcripts of CSRTs. Will see about making that more clear on our site.

  7. JasonLeopold says:

    in a nutshell

    The government has said it will continue to withhold dozens of documents related to the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody overseas. The Justice Department was facing an August 31 deadline to release the documents, including a presidential directive authorizing CIA “black sites” as well as CIA inspector general (IG) records and documents from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) regarding the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” in response to two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

  8. maryo2 says:

    AGAG says “And if people go beyond that”

    I don’t know where the words about ‘those who crossed the line’ originated, but it seems like Obama was talking about the people who gave flimsy interpretations of laws, and not just the interrogators only. But Cheney and now Gonzales are twisting the story to be that Holder wants to prosecute the interro-torturers only.

    And they want to imply that these are all CIA torturers (people who dedicated their lives to protecting this country), but we know they were contractors from Spokane to Afghanistan out to make a buck.

    • Citizen92 says:


      …Mr. Gonzales also said Bush administration lawyers clearly defined what interrogation techniques were legal and the few who went beyond the rules should be investigated…

      In other words, the Bush lawyers are in the clear. It’s the few “bad apples” who merit investigation. As usual, praise ‘the men and women who wear the uniform’ and then throw them under the bus.

      I was hoping this was a shot across Addington’s bow. Addington lawyered while Gonzo “drank diet cokes from his little refrigerator.” Alas, not so.

  9. JasonLeopold says:

    the other vaughn index is 200 plus pages. They haven’t posted the link and I haven’t uploaded yet. But just FYI

  10. fatster says:

    Accused Gitmo terrorist loses latest legal challenge
    Posted: 01:11 PM ET
    By Bill Mears
    September 1st, 2009
    CNN Supreme Court Producer

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — “An accused terrorist who was at the center of two previous Supreme Court decisions over his years-long detention by the U.S. military, has lost his latest legal challenge.

    “A federal judge — who sits on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — has ruled Fawzi al-Odah of Kuwait can be held at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, denying his petition for habeas corpus, which had demanded the government justify his imprisonment.

    “In a ruling released by the court Tuesday, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly offered a more restrictive view of executive authority to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists than the Obama and Bush administrations had offered. Nevertheless, she said, “the government has met its burden to show by a preponderance of the evidence that al-Odah became part of the Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.”’


  11. fatster says:

    CIA refuses to release torture documents

Published: September 1, 2009 
Updated -3301 second ago

    “The Central Intelligence Agency has refused to turn over documents they were ordered to produce to a civil rights group under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

    “A federal judge ordered the agency to produce the documents — relating to the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program and secret prisons — by Monday, or provide a justification for withholding them. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.”


  12. bmaz says:

    Eh, I wouldn’t expect more (although, granted, AGAG is dumb as a stump and has been so isolated he appears desperate to exercise his vocal chords). I actually think that, rather than being helpful, this is a fairly effective cover yer ass thing for Gonzo to say; it attempts to start to draw a line between “rogues” and those god fearing all American folks in the Bush Administration. In short, I don’t see this as any great shift in the equilibrium.

  13. Mary says:

    AGAG is kind of talking as one who is pretty well insulated from liabiity on a lot of things. Most of the worst took place in the years he was WH counsel, not really legally able to give someone the ability (like Ashcroft/Bybee/Yoo/Thompson/Philbin etc. did) to *go ye forth and torture in my name and with my blessing.* He could blather on all he wanted without much real liability – sure, his inartful memo that came out can go to show Bush’s state of mind and motivation (adopting the “illegal enemy combatants meme specifically to try to get around future war crimes charges) but he doesn’t have the same kind of obligations in that role.

    He does have obligations for his role in the FISA sign off, but he’s hung out on that already. If there’s liability from the way out west cases, he’s clipped. He does have obligations for his role in the US atty firings, but there again, he’s clipped. On the torture front, though, he’s got his best personal insulation and so why not sit back and see how Cheney and Addington and Bush and Chertoff and McNulty handle that?

    I wonder if McNulty has been forthcoming on the USA firings front (probably not, but you never know) and if Gonzales is going to get his own bit back on that with the torture front. There’s literally no way for McNulty not to have known that his office was directly violating Brinkema’s orders and other courts orders too, after his office handled the criminal probe that should have required a looksee at the videotapes (and even if they didn’t look at them, they knew about them). Gonzales, though, can say he did not block criminal referrals from the IG report, but rather handed them off (I would guess they went to Chertoff who then used McNulty’s office, but maybe it all went directly to McNulty)

    He can say that he understood there was dissension on the torture memos, so he specifically agreed with having OLC, with by then someone other than Yoo in charge, to revisit and voila – you get Levin’s thumbs up. Then he agreed to yet more OLC reviews with someone other than Yoo and Levin and voila – Bradbury’s thumbs up. At this point you can take an exasperated note and say – com’on guys, so Ashcroft maybe was sloppy and all, but by my time the torture issue was out in the open with Abu Ghraib and an IG report for OLC to look to and both Levin and Bradbury were still authorizing everything, what was I supposed to do? Comey? Sure, he raised some issues, but I allowed him to be directly involved in review and he specifically concurred on some of Bradbury’s work and he was the requestor and recipient of some of Levin’s work, so if Comey and Levin and Bradbury are all issuing or approving the issue of these memos, all knowing about the IG report and Abu Ghraib, well, why shouldn’t I be able to rely on them? And Chertoff and McNulty and Helgerson and the ED VA lawyers – golly, they all said nothing was wrong – I didn’t stand in the way of any of that and those guys made the calls.

    As central as he was to all of it, Gonzales probably is in some of his most defensible postures on torture. He’s got a lot of DOJ pieces on the table that have to be taken out before you’d get through to him, unless he has some really stupid and revealing emails or the like floating around.

      • Mary says:

        Bc no one had any right to rely on him – he was only Bush’s lawyer (actually, the office of pres’s lawyer). No one other than Bush is really entitled to look to him for advice vs. DOJ lawyers, who are empowered to give advice to the agencies and employees of the Exec branch.

        If he’s passing on Bush’s position, as Bush’s lawyer who has also gotten the OLC and the AG and the Principals to support Bush’s position, he’s about as insulated as he’s going to be and about as privileged. And the only way to get to him at that point is through Bush – which Obamaco seems exceptionally unwilling to do – and even if they do try to go at him through Bush, he’s given Bush the advice as of the Jan 2002 memo that Bush may be looking at war crimes charges (that’s more direct advice than what anyone at olc is spitting out in their *bless this mess* memos – so if his client chooses to undertake actions that will put him in line for war crimes charges, after receiving advice from Gonzo (and not from Ashcroft etc.) that he may be looking at war crimes charges, Gonzales is more in the clear and postures himself better than most of the others at that stage. Then combine it with all the rest (Bradbury, Chertoff, Comey, McNulty, Levin etc. all as prior sign offs on various issues) when he comes in as AG, and while he has risk, he’s really in a better slot than someone like an Ashcroft. IMO, fwiw.

          • Styve says:

            What would that be…take a Shirlington Limo with a bunch of corrupt Republican operatives and spies and go pick up some hookers, boys and girls, and go have a wild party with Porter Goss and his cronies at the Watergate?

            Or some other route? ]-)

            • john in sacramento says:

              Really apropos of nothing

              But, when we moved to Reno in the early 90’s, I got a part time job with a polling company, and one of the polls was something that had to do with some local issue in the DC or N Virginia area.

              So, I got my list of numbers to call and I’m going along calling specific voters in the household for whatever the issue was. Anyway I call this number and I’m looking at the name for the person to ask for, and some guy answers with a deep deep deep voice (James Earl Jones-like, not him though). He doesn’t say ‘hello’ – he doesn’t say ‘this is so and so, anything any normal person would say.’ He says something strange like they’d say in a spy movie or something, something like ‘the Aspens are turning yellow’ or ‘the moon is brightest on the darkest night’ – one of those odd phrases

              So, I’m sitting there with my mouth open, looking at the phone (I think I probably looked like the old RCA dog) asked for the name on the list, and I can’t even remember what he said because it was it was the oddest, most unanticipated response I would have ever thought to expect. I think he said it was some type of business

              It was the strangest phone conversation I’ve ever had

        • bmaz says:

          Maybe – many of his acts, for whatever reason they were undertaken, may, on the other hand, be viewed as outside of the course and scope of his position as WH Atty, and he may not have the de facto shielding you refer to. Hard to really determine without very specific facts and context.

    • Kinmo says:

      “…emails or the like floating around”. I’ll bet that’s a real thorn in his side. The stuff nightmares are made of. One of these days the emails floating around are going to wash ashore.

      • Mary says:

        Aww, com’on – this is AGAG. He has that steel trap memory – he’d know if … *g*

        @35 – at least that fancy will come with its own soundtrack, “Dusty trails, to Yoo”

        @36 – I don’t deny some good arguments can be made, but on torture (as opposed ot the USA firings) you have to go through so many to get to him, even if he was involved in communications/authorizations. I think its his safest place which isn’t the same as safe place. He did give Bush the war crimes spiel, but they could both “rely” on the Bybee “not a war crime if its done to an illegal enemy combatant” bit unless you take that down first. Which means DOJ taking down OLC institutionally as well as being ready to go after the subsequents too – not just Yoo and Bybee, but Levin and Goldsmith and Bradbury and Ashcroft and likely DAGs like torture field tripper Thomspon and Comey and McNulty.

        OTOH, between the torture investigations (with OPR finding they should be reopened you have to wonder a bit) and misreps to numerous courts and destruction of evidence AND the USA firings, surely McNulty has more than one thing on his plate these days.

  14. perris says:

    wow, this is great stuff but of course he’s gonna recant as soon as he gets the wingunt welfare he’s lobbying for

  15. Jo Fish says:

    So Abu the G has decided to start talking? Will the offers of Wingnut Welfare be forthcoming soon or has he already strayed far enough off the reservation with this statement to make him Kryptonite to Darth’s Phantom Zone criminal act?

  16. Leen says:

    “But because it suggests you might be willing to say more–much more–to defend yourself in the face of those who refused you a sinecure”

    Oh yeah. Whether it is his conscience showing or he is trying to look good…let’s hope he is starting a fad

  17. hychka says:

    Way OT, but SO GOOD!!!!

    It appears that Sarah Palin got punked by the CLSA, or someone claiming to be with CLSA, and won’t be going to Hong Kong to tell the movers and shakers all about Sarah’s world view from her kitchen!

  18. KayInMaine says:

    Awwww, how cute. Gonzo knows that the majority of Americans hates his guts for his covering up the crimes of the Bush Regime, so now to find & keep employment, he’s finally admitting mistakes were made and Holder should investigate and prosecute.

  19. foothillsmike says:

    Heck Fredo may be trying to diffuse some of the animosity from his new TT fellow “teaching” staff.

  20. hychka says:

    Can’t get the link to work…

    Go to politicalCarnival.com

    Hong Kong Broker Pulling A “Borat” On Sarah Palin by Vincent Fernando Hopefully Sarah Palin realizes she’s been invited to Hong Kong as a practical joke.

    CLSA, the Asia-focused broker who invited Mrs. Palin as keynote speaker for an Asian investment conference, is well known for their cheeky takes on investment research.

    In the past, they’ve polled Asian fortune tellers for index targets, hired anime cartoonists to draw Japanese research, and generally love to push the boundaries between entertainment and analysis. They are a real research firm, it’s just that they love to sprinkle in some hilarity every now and then as a smart marketing gimmick.

    Sarah Palin is this year’s big laugh for them.

    Her invitation as keynote speaker in Hong Kong is so ridiculous that its absurdity can’t be accidental.

    WSJ: Palin ” who’s never been to East Asia and isn’t exactly famous for her mastery of public speaking or her expertise in finance and international affairs ” might seem an unusual choice for an event that, according to CLSA, is Asia’s premier investment conference providing unrivalled corporate access to 1,300 global fund managers from 32 countries, representing more than $10 trillion in funds under management.

    AP: “Our keynote speakers are notable luminaries who often address topics that go beyond traditional finance such as geopolitics,” company spokeswoman Simone Wheeler said in a statement. “We just felt it would be a fabulous opportunity for CLSA clients to hear from Mrs. Palin,” Wheeler said, adding that CLSA approached Palin with the offer.

    This is the straight-faced professional comedy which CLSA does so well. Palin probably doesn’t know what she’s in for. If you will, she’s being “Borat’ed” and doesn’t have the Asia knowledge to realize it.

  21. NorskeFlamethrower says:


    Citizen emptywheel and the firepup Freedom Fighters:

    Before you folks getcher hormones poppin’ like adolescent boys with a box of Viagra, I want to warn ya that before Igor the AG says anything that will put anyone in jail, he will be entertainin’ the devil in the 12th ring of Dante’s hell…Gonzales is a dead man walkin’. Of course there hasta be a DOJ investigation that is willin’ ta listen to this pathetic creature and of all the investigations that WON’t be initiated this is at the top of the list.


  22. solerso says:

    I almost feel really bad for Gonzales, almost. He was given that job because he was a real go along to get along type of guy. Now hes going along in the hope that he will get along with the new bosses.

  23. Twain says:

    Gonzo, if he had any sense, would have known that he was just a tool because Bush was always so condescending to him, even in public. He treated him like he was the janitor and everyone could see it.

  24. solerso says:

    “I want to warn ya that before Igor the AG says anything that will put anyone in jail, he will be entertainin’ the devil in the 12th ring of Dante’s hell…Gonzales is a dead man walkin’.”

    thats probably why hes singing in public now. it makes him safer.

    • fatster says:

      Do you think he’s aiming to hide behind Cheney? Things are not going well for old Dick “Dick” these days, so badly, in fact, that perhaps Gonzo has noticed.

  25. Kinmo says:

    The shit is moving ever closer to the fan and he knows it. I think he not only will try to cover his ass, he will do whatever possible to save it. All of the underlings are going to start to sing for their lives.

  26. rkilowatt says:

    3 anomalies: GWB seemed to repudiate demonstrated, close working relations with 3 very loyal capos: AGAG, DCheney and ILibby. Same time frame?…related?

    When GWB read DC’s “the Pres” meatgrinder-note in a very public exposure, what might have been his characteristic reaction? Shock? Do ya think totally pissed? A metallic feeling of back-stabbed?

    A lousey novelist could have the Pres telling AGAG to tell DC to tell IL to tell JudyNYT to push Flame Plame. Then, petard-like, the Pres gets fingered by “the Pres“. Hooboy! Just fantacizing.

  27. Kassandra says:

    What do you expect when Georgie threw him under the bus and he can’t even find a job because he followed Bush/Cheney’s orders. So much for lifelong friendship

  28. radiofreewill says:

    If the Hospital Visit Episode ended the way we all think it did, then Gonzo shouldn’t get a deal of any kind, imvho.

    Rather, he should be held to account over the March 11th Re-Certification, where he ‘witnessed’ Bush elevating himself Above the Law.

    We’re talking about the Lawyer who guaranteed on a (secret) official document that Bush’s word was The Law of the Land – and then Gonzo carried that document around in his briefcase, for Years, so that No One Else could see it.

    That one document, imvho, makes a Mockery of every Memo that OLC ever ’served up’ for Bush by enshrining the ‘real’ power structure of BushCo for all to see – not a Democracy according to the Constitution, but instead a Secret Banana Republic Dictatorship, with the ‘UE’ sock-puppeting as the President of the US, surrounded by a battery of sycophant “Department of Justice” Lawyers, ready to cloak his every unlawful act in Ex-Post Facto ‘legal’ legitimacy.

    Heinous, depraved, Monsterous things were done in Our name by Bush and Cheney – without US being told about it – and Gonzo was a key player in perpetrating the Fraud.

    The only deal Gonzo should get, imvho, is a fair and impartial trial by a jury of his peers.

    • bmaz says:

      Gonzo cannot be tried by a jury of his peers, as his peers would not be able to recall the evidence adduced at trial and would then remember nothing when it came time to deliberate.

      • radiofreewill says:

        Heh…Well then, if only Gonzo’s peers would read emptywheel, then their memories would be aided by a clear view of the facts, in the context of the Legal issues involved, and a well-cited understanding of the relationships between the actors!

        I don’t understand it, bmaz, but with Gonzo’s reappearance, for some reason, when I hear about “Healthcare Reform,” I think about the “Hospital Visit.”

        Gonzo was a one-man “Death Panel” for the Integrity of the Law, and Law Enforcement.

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