More on the Kaiping Mines: Jonathan Spence's Asides, and Albert Feuerwerker's Review of Ellsworth Carlson
Robert Waldmann Wants to Deny Robert Samuelson His Free Speech Rights!

Dana Milbank Is a National Treasure

He is approaching the Fafblog zone--the only zone from which one can properly cover the George W. Bush administration:

Dana Milbank: With Senate and Gonzales, Familiarity Breeds Contempt: White House officials are vying to be the first person held in "contempt of Congress" for refusing to cooperate with probes of the Bush administration. Turns out the contempt is mutual. After four hours of questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee didn't even require a vote to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Congress is in contempt of Gonzales.

Consider some of the invective directed at the attorney general as he sat hunched and grim at the witness table:

The department is dysfunctional. . . . Every week a new issue arises. . . . That is just decimating, Mr. Attorney General. . . . The list goes on and on. . . . Is your department functioning? . . . What credibility is left for you? . . . Do you expect us to believe that? . . . Your credibility has been breached to the point of being actionable.

And that was just from the top Republican on the committee, Arlen Specter (Pa.). Democrats had to scramble to keep up with the ranking member's contempt.

I don't trust you, announced Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who paused, while swearing in the witness, to emphasize "nothing but the truth" -- as if lecturing a child.

You just constantly change the story, seemingly to fit your needs to wiggle out of being caught, added Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

You, sir, are in fact the problem," submitted Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).

But the scandal-ridden Gonzales has the support of the only person who matters -- President Bush -- and that allowed him to be as contemptuous as he was contemptible. To Leahy: "I think you've misunderstood my response." To Specter: "I'm not going to answer this question." To Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): "I'm not going to get in a public discussion here."... Why would Gonzales wish to stay in the job? "That's a very good question," the witness acknowledged.

The Gonzales Justice Department's problems have mushroomed since the initial accusations that he fired U.S. attorneys to stymie the prosecutions of Republican lawmakers. Then came admissions that the Justice Department had improperly politicized the hiring of prosecutors. Recent testimony points to witness tampering and false testimony by Gonzales and his top lieutenants. Gonzales was even discovered to have staged a late-night raid on the hospital bed of his predecessor. And now he's accused of mishandling the USA Patriot Act, the death penalty and a major drug case.

As he fielded complaints yesterday, Gonzales had no briefing book before him; this made sense, because he had no answers for the senators' questions....

Gonzales spread his contempt widely. When Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) asked about closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, Gonzales wisecracked: "I guess we could turn them loose, senator." When Whitehouse asked about FBI Director Robert Mueller, Gonzales shot back acidly: "I'm not Director Mueller." He even shut down Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the one remotely friendly questioner, with a quick "I can't recall." The attorney general's ignorance was equally broad and bipartisan. "I don't know," he said when Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked about suspicious changes made recently to voter-fraud prosecutions. "I can't answer," he told Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) when asked about the department's handling of voting-rights cases. "That's a good question," he said when Whitehouse inquired why Gonzales granted Vice President Cheney's office access to criminal investigations. "I did not review this case," he said when Specter asked about a Justice Department settlement over OxyContin abuse...

Impeach Alberto Gonzales. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach George W. Bush for the High Crime of breaching his oath to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Do it now.

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