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Gonzales Nixed Inquiry into Own Conduct at DOJ, Democrats Furious

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This article courtesy of Atlanta Progressive News.


 (APN) ATLANTA – At least four Members of US Congress and four US Senators today raised concerns about a breaking report in the National Journal that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appears to have known he was going to be negatively implicated in a review at the US Department of Justice’s (USDOJ) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) when he advised President Bush regarding the review. The review was later squashed when Bush denied security clearances OPR needed to investigate Gonzales.

"Your role in advising the President on this question raises... even more serious concerns," US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Chairman of the US House Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to Gonzales, dated March 15, 2007, obtained by Atlanta Progressive News. A second letter obtained by APN was signed by US Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and John Lewis (D-GA).

US Sens. Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Kennedy (D-MA), and Schumer (D-NY) have requested Gonzales clarify his actions as well, according to a third letter obtained by APN from Kennedy's Office. "We are deeply troubled by a report in today’s National Journal... In the aftermath of revelations about the dismissals of U.S. Attorneys and the Justice Department’s abuse of Patriot Act authorities, this report raises still more concerns about the independence and integrity of the Justice Department under your leadership."

"It could be extraordinarily serious. We have the Attorney General here working to block an investigation of himself," Jeff Lieberson, Communications Director to US Rep. Maurice Hinchey told Atlanta Progressive News in an interview.

"Either he [Gonzales] told the President he was going to be the subject of this investigation and asked the President to shut it down, or he didn't tell the President that and he was... leaving out critical parts of the truth and not living up to his responsibilities as Attorney General," Hinchey’s spokesman said.

Hinchey’s Office is currently working on a letter to President Bush asking him about what he knew of the OPR investigation and its implications for Gonzales, Atlanta Progressive News has learned.

"It would be like... any member of Congress asking the Ethics Committee to cancel an investigation knowing the investigation could incriminate them," one Congressional staffer told APN on condition of anonymity.

According to Congressional testimony on the National Security Administration (NSA) wiretapping, Bush was the one who personally denied the security clearances to the USDOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) several months ago.

As Atlanta Progressive News reported over a year ago in January 2006, the OPR investigation was going to look into Gonzales’s professional conduct or misconduct related to the NSA wiretapping program. US Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and others had requested the USDOJ internal review as well as reviews at other agencies, when the USDOJ replied that the OPR probe was essentially the best they could do.

(FLASHBACK: Please see "Federal Agencies Play Hot Potato With Wiretap Probe" http://www.atlantaprogressivenews.com/news/0015.html)

Several months later, the OPR notified US Rep. Lofgren that they could not obtain the necessary security clearances to conduct the investigation.

At the time, Lofgren and others were displeased because the OPR investigation would not have looked into the legality of the NSA Wiretapping Program, which is what they had requested.

However, what was unclear at the time was that even the OPR’s review could have been problematic for Gonzales as well.

The OPR was going to look into "his misconduct in how he approved the program, implemented it, and how he may have went outside the line," Hinchey’s spokesman said.

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Matthew Cardinale is Editor of Atlanta Progressive News. He has written previously for the Sun-Sentinel Newspaper, Shelterforce Magazine, The Advocate Magazine, The San Francisco Bay View, and the Berkeley Daily Planet Newspaper. He has also (more...)
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