In 1996, Governor George W Bush received a summons to serve on a jury, which would have required his admission that 20 years earlier he had been arrested for drunk driving. Already planning his presidential campaign, he did not want this information made public. His lawyer made the novel argument to the judge that Bush should not have to serve because "he would not, as governor, be able to pardon the defendant in the future". (The defendant was a stripper accused of drunk driving.) The judge agreed, and it was not until the closing days of the 2000 campaign that Bush's record surfaced. On Monday, the same lawyer, Alberto Gonzales - now attorney general - appeared before the senate judiciary committee to defend "the client", as he called the president.But the scary part comes later on:
Gonzales was the sole witness called to explain Bush's warrantless domestic spying, in obvious violation of the foreign intelligence surveillance act (Fisa) and circumvention of the special court created to administer it. The scene at the Senate was acted as though scripted partly by Kafka, partly by Mel Brooks, and partly by John le Carré. After not being sworn in, the absence of oath-taking having been insisted upon by the Republicans, Gonzales offered legal reasoning even more imaginative than that he used to get Bush off jury duty: a melange of mendacity, absurdity and mystery.
Who was or wasn't being spied on couldn't and wouldn't be explained. When Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, asked whether the program could be used to "influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media", Gonzales replied: "Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible." When Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked for assurances that only al-Qaida or suspected terrorists were subjected to surveillance, Gonzales answered: "Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance."Whah??? He can't give "absolute assurance" that only terrorists (or suspected terrorists) are being watched?
The amazing thing is that this is the answer he gave even though he wasn't under oath.
How much more do we need to know about this administration before we all understand it's a real threat to our civil liberties?