Friday, March 23, 2007

Gates, Gonzales, & Gitmo

Soon after he was confirmed as Secretary of Defense, Bob Gates began to advocate closing down Guantanamo Bay, according to The New York Times, reports. He argued that the base "had become so tainted abroad that legal proceedings at Guantanamo would be viewed as illegitimate."

Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice backed him up. But they had a powerful contingent opposing them:

Mr. Gates’s arguments were rejected after Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and some other government lawyers expressed strong objections to moving detainees to the United States, a stance that was backed by the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, administration officials said.

...[T]he high-level discussions about closing Guantánamo came to a halt after Mr. Bush rejected the approach, although officials at the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the State Department continue to analyze options for the detention of terrorism suspects.
The main logic for Cheney's and Gonzales' opposition was two-fold. First and foremost was the reason that Gitmo was created, because bringing the prisoners to American soil would make things much more complicated -- because of American law. Second was that, even though Bush has said that he wants to eventually close Gitmo, "closing it would be seen as a public admission of an incorrect policy" (i.e. much better for Bush to go back on his word than reverse a disastrous policy).

For now, Gates and Rice are on the losing side of the debate. But that might not last too much longer:

Even so, one senior administration official who favors the closing of the facility said the battle might be renewed.
“Let’s see what happens to Gonzales,” that official said, referring to speculation that Mr. Gonzales will be forced to step down, or at least is significantly weakened, because of the political uproar over the dismissal of United States attorneys. “I suspect this one isn’t over yet.”
Yeah, well, maybe. I personally don't think that this President is smart enough to cut bait and dump Alberto Gonzales before this investigation creeps its way into the Oval Office.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

AttorneyGate Reaches Into Vice President's Office

Oh My God...

This scandal not only has legs, it suddenly now has the potential to run the distance and bring down George W. Bush.

Some background:

Carol Lam, the fired US Attorney for San Diego was the prosecutor who nailed Republican Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham for accepting bribes from defense contractor Mitchell Wade. The biggest bribe involved a scam where Wade purchased Cunningham's home for $1,675,000, then sold it 2 months later for under $975,000. Wade also bought Cunningham several pieces of antique furniture as undeclared gifts. Like $50,000 Louis XVII dressers type of gifts. Most amusingly, Wade bought Duke Cunningham a boat which the Congressman named "The Duke-Stir." In return, Duke slipped defense contracts worth several millions of dollars to Wade by secretly earmarking them into the top-secret House Intelligence Committee budget which no one is allowed to read. Because the earmarking rules don't require any one Congressman take blame/credit for slipping shit into the budget, Cunningham's shenanigans went unnoticed for several years... but once noticed, the San Diego US Attorney's office prosecuted Cunningham & Wade with vigor. Both are currently in jail.

Carol Lam rolled Wade up and flipped him on his Republican cronies to see who else he'd bribed or been involved with. She discovered another corrupt contractor had been playing the same schemes with Cunningham, one Brent Wilkes, who had been throwing "Hookers & Poker" parties at the Watergate Hotel for Republican Congressmen & Senators. Lam nailed Wilkes, then flipped HIM and kept climbing the ladder of corruption.

On May 10, 2006, Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe. The very next day, Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales' right-hand-man (and The White House's designated Fall Guy for this entire scandal) sent an e-mail to another fellow Justice Department official that said "because of the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam" she needed to be fired. A week later, Lam was informed that the President no longer required her services. She clearly what was happening and prepared for her resignation -- and then, on the day before she resigned, Lam indicted the #3 guy at the CIA, Dusty Foggo, forcing Porter Goss, George Bush's hand-picked CIA director, to resign.

More importantly, Lam was in the middle of leveraging her continuing investigation into super-crook-congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) when she was told "hey, you're fired" by the White House/Justice Department. This clearly partisan firing has been at the true center of the entire AttorneyGate scandal raging in Washington.

But now a MUCH more interesting picture is emerging, one that reaches all the way up into the White House itself and could bring down this Presidency in flames if true:

The facts:

– Wade pled guilty last February to paying then-California Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham more than $1 million in bribes.

– Wade confessed that his company MZM Inc., which had NEVER received ANY government contracts was "somehow" placed on a list of approved Government Contractors.

– Wade/MZM received its first federal contract just one week later from the White House. The contract, which ran from July 15 to August 15, 2002, stipulated that Wade be paid $140,000 to “provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.”

– Two weeks later, on August 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht for $140,000 for Duke Cunningham, the “Duke-Stir.”

– According to Cunningham’s sentencing memorandum, the purchase price of the boat had been negotiated through a third-party earlier that summer, around the same time the White House contract was signed.

To recap, the White House awarded a one-month, $140,000 contract to an individual who had never held a previous federal contract. Two weeks after he got paid, that same contractor used a cashier’s check for exactly that amount to buy a boat for a now-imprisoned congressman at a price that the congressman had pre-negotiated weeks earlier. of the fired Federal Prosecutors was inches from tying Dick Cheney to a $140,000 bribe paid to a convicted former Congressman. Then she was suddenly fired for supposedly not bringing enough good illegal immigration cases... despite having been given special notices for doing exactly that a year earlier. Hmmm.

Yeah, Karl Rove and Harriet Miers shouldn't have to testify under oath. They clearly have no reason to lie and far too much respect for the rule of law. Those damned partisan Democrats!

It's a bit like convicting Al Capone for Tax Evasion and ignoring the underlying murders, but hey at this point, I'll take Impeachment any way that I can get it.