From the raw story:
Either former Bush officials are being pressured to backtrack, or recent flip-flops are just more evidence that they had no convictions in the first place.
In a story entitled Gonzales backtracks on support for CIA probe, The Washington Times‘ Ben Conery reports, “Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said Thursday that his previous assertion that it was ‘legitimate to question and examine’ charges of CIA abuses of suspected terrorists did not mean he endorsed such an investigation.”
Anyone else think
Don Corleone Deadeye Dick Cheney invited Little Abu and Tommy Boy to go on a hunting trip?
Speaking to the conservative-leaning Washington Times newspaper during a Tuesday radio broadcast, Gonzales said that the Bush administration “worked very hard to establish ground rules and parameters” of the torture program.
“[If] people go beyond that, I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror,” he added on Tuesday, as Raw Story noted.
At his blog The ‘Skeeter Bites Report’, former newspaper editor Skeeter Sanders wrote, “Gonzales’ comments marked a dramatic reversal from remarks the former attorney general made in his earlier interview in Lubbock, Texas with the AP, in which he said that any such investigation ‘could discourage’ CIA operatives from ‘engaging in conduct that even comes close’ to department guidelines.”
“Gonzales said at the time that he had talked to CIA attorneys who had heard from the spy agency’s operatives,” Sanders added. “‘They’re very, very concerned about the legal liability and legal exposure,’ he told the AP. ‘And that’s the danger with launching some kind of investigation. But, again, this is a decision that’s got to be made by the current attorney general.’”
Author and one-time Nixon White House counsel John Dean believes that former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge may have been “pressured” to back down from the assertion in his new book that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft pressed him to raise the terrorism threat level just before the 2004 election for political reasons.
“He did indeed imply a rather serious criminal charge if this conduct indeed had been undertaken,” Dean told MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann on Wednesday. “So I think there’s a lot of reasons he probably has backed off, and political pressure from the Bush clan is probably part of the reason.”
Ridge attempted to explain to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Tuesday that he wondered at the time if the motive might be political, but “at the end of the day” he concluded that “politics wasn’t involved.” He also insisted that both the jacket copy and the publisher’s website misrepresent what is actually in his book.
“I would suspect the fact that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft came out and hit him pretty hard has affected his thinking on this whole matter,” Dean added with a chuckle. “He doesn’t seem as clear on what he wrote now that they’ve spoken out on the issue.”
“It’s difficult for me to believe that Ridge was not sent this copy and did not approve it before it went on the jacket,” Dean added.
When Olbermann asked whether Ridge should have been aware that the statements in his book amounted to claims of a criminal visolation, Dean pointed out that Ridge is a former US Attorney, and that “theoretically, he would know about Title 18 371, which is the conspiracy to defraud the government by abusing or misusing its agencies for, in this instance, political purposes.”
(Video at link)
From Talking Points Memo:
Remember how Alberto Gonzales came out the other day and said he supports Eric Holder’s decision to investigate torture, as long as the probe is limited to CIA personnel who exceeded the lawyers’ legal guidance?
Well it looks like even that qualified position was too much for torture supporters on the right. Because now Gonzo has crawled back to the Washington Times to say that, actually, he didn’t really mean it.
“Contrary to press reporting and based on the information that’s available to me,” he told the paper, “I don’t support the investigation by the department because this is a matter that has already been reviewed thoroughly and because I believe that another investigation is going to harm our intelligence gathering capabilities and that’s a concern that’s shared by career intelligence officials and so for those reasons I respectfully disagree with the decision.”
Gonzales’ volte-face on the issue echoes that of his Bush administration colleague Tom Ridge on the question of whether the Bushies played politics with the terror alerts. In excerpts from his book reported recently, Ridge asserted that they had. But — presumably under pressure from fellow Republicans — Ridge this week backtracked on the claim.
As for Gonzo, he spent a portion of the rest of the interview twisting himself into knots to explain why his new position isn’t really a contradiction of his old one.
And to think, this is the man who used to be the country’s top prosecutor.