Sunday, March 25, 2007

Gonzales should be impeached


THE HOUSE of Representatives should begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales, the nation's highest legal officer, has been point man for serial assaults against the rule of law, most recently in the crude attempt to politicize criminal prosecutions. Obstruction of a prosecution is a felony, even when committed by the attorney general.

The firings of US attorneys had multiple political motives, all contrary to longstanding practice. In some cases, Republican politicians and the White House were angry that prosecutors were not going after Democrats with sufficient zeal. In other cases, they wanted the prosecutors to lighten up on Republicans. In still others, exemplary prosecutors were shoved aside to make room for rising Republican politicians being groomed for higher office.

It's hard to imagine a more direct assault on the impartiality of the law or the professionalism of the criminal justice system. There are several other reasons to remove Gonzales, all involving his cavalier contempt for courts and liberties of citizens, most recently in the FBI's more than 3,000 cases of illegal snooping on Americans.

Why impeachment? In our system of checks and balances, the Senate confirms members of the Cabinet, but impeachment for cause is the only way to remove them. The White House, by refusing to cooperate, has now left Congress no other recourse.

Instead of responding to lawful subpoenas, President Bush has invited congressional leaders to meet informally with Karl Rove and other officials involved in the prosecutor firings, with no sworn testimony and no transcript. Rove narrowly escaped a perjury indictment in the Cheney/Libby/Wilson affair. You might think these people had something to hide.


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