Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Things must be bad when Ashcroft looks good

By Michael J.W. Stickings


On the night of March 10, 2004, as Attorney General John D. Ashcroft lay ill in an intensive-care unit, his deputy, James B. Comey, received an urgent call.

White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales and President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., were on their way to the hospital to persuade Ashcroft to reauthorize Bush's domestic surveillance program, which the Justice Department had just determined was illegal.

In vivid testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday, Comey said he alerted FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and raced, sirens blaring, to join Ashcroft in his hospital room, arriving minutes before Gonzales and Card. Ashcroft, summoning the strength to lift his head and speak, refused to sign the papers they had brought. Gonzales and Card, who had never acknowledged Comey's presence in the room, turned and left.

Let's repeat that: Ashcroft refused to sign the papers.

It's a fascinating story. For more, see The Carpetbagger Report, The Anonymous Liberal, Glenn Greenwald, Balkinization, TPMmuckraker, and Firedoglake. The Carpetbagger sums it up well: "The surveillance was already underway without court approval, and then the White House decided it didn’t need the Justice Department either. The NSA program, at that point, was operating purely because the president said it could, despite the objections of the acting Attorney General."

In other words, Bush's program was illegal and operational. Even Ashcroft was against it.

A Sign of the Apocalypse? No, more a Sign of America's Imminent Collapse.

This president has spent much of the past six-plus years abusing American democracy and Americans' freedoms, not to mention other countries and other peoples.

The evidence is clear. And piling up.

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