Speculation is swirling about who will replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- everyone from Utah's Senator Orrin Hatch to former Solicitor General and Clinton stalker Theodore Olsen. Until last week, the name most bandied about was Secretary of Homeland Security and USAPATRIOT Act co-author Michael Chertoff. You'd think selecting Chertoff in light of the New Orleans debacle would be a stupid thing to do since Chertoff's continued ideological mishandling of the Katrina disaster borders on the criminally insane.
Oh. Yeah. I forgot. Stupid bungling and destructive, criminal assaults on the less fortunate seem to be the criteria for serving at the pleasure of this president. Who can forget Chertoff's bewildered insistence that nobody could "predict such a disaster ever could occur"? Or that he refused hundreds of aid personnel and dozens of vehicles offered by Chicago's Mayor Daley...refused to let the Red Cross deliver food...refused the Navy's offer of a ship with a 600-bed hospital...refused Amtrak's offer to assist in evacuations...turned away WalMart supply trucks...prevented the Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel...blocked a 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid...turned back a German government plane loaded with 15 tons of food...put on FEMA's website that first responders were "not to respond" unless dispatched...and then tried to cover his ass by asking the media not to take pictures of the dead?
The response to Katrina was an evil, genocidal racist disaster, a contractors' wet dream, a dry-run for mercenary troops to impose martial law. Its PR was orchestrated by Karl Rove, who also controlled the money, and by Michael Chertoff who apparently was in charge of ridding the Big Easy of its bottom feeders, you know, the ill, the elderly, the poverty stricken and tens of thousands of its Black population. They did a heckuva a job...
The Democrats seem to think doing the Gonzo Boogie is as easy as ABC -- Anybody But Chertoff. They're getting nervous, begging Bush to consult with them and to come up with a candidate that suits both sides of the aisle. Bush's response thus far has been to extend the middle fingers of both hands while accusing Democrats of dragging Gonzales' "good name" through the mud for political reasons.
Well, that lets former acting attorney general James Comey, the one man who could perhaps bring some sanity back into our justice system, off the hook. Comey is a Republican whose attention is riveted on the views of the U.S. Constitution rather than those of the president. Comey appointed Patrick Fitzgerald as special prosecutor to investigate the CIA leak case, which resulted in Cheney chief of staff Scooter Libby taking the perjury perp walk. It was Comey who thwarted Gonzales' smarmy effort to get the survelliance program reauthorized in his midnight raid on the hospital room of a critically ill John Ashcroft. And it was Comey, the only Justice official not to lose his memory when facing questions from Congress, who told the truth about the filthy, behind-the-scenes activities of the Bush administration.
If Bush had any integrity or appreciation for the rule of law, he would consider Solicitor General Paul Clement, a 31-year-old legal whiz kid who is not only brilliant, but honest. Clement is a true conservative, a former clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia, and a deputy to Ted Olson when he was solicitor general. However, that doesn't necessarily mean he would meet Bush's criteria of an attorney general who agrees with his policies or shares his dangerous views. In a January article in Legal Times, Tony Mauro wrote, "Clement defends liberal legislation with as much zeal as he does Republican policies. His litigating skills and reputation for straight shooting have won him plaudits from across the ideological spectrum."
Removing Chertoff from consideration without a fight is uncharacteristic of Bush, and is designed to force the Democrats to cave yet again; to give Bush what he wants while weakly claiming victory. And what Bush wants is unparalled, unmitigated power such as that proposed by former Ashcroft deputy assistant John Yoo -- the power to wiretap US citizens, the freedom to torture not only terrorist suspects, but their children as well, and to declare war anytime, anywhere, on anyone.
Fortunately, Yoo, currently a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, is radioactive, but we can look for former solicitor general Theodore (Ted) Olson to be at the top of Bush's list. Olson was part of the Paula Jones legal team in her case against President Bill Clinton, and was deeply involved in Kenneth Starr's Richard Mellon Scaife-funded Swiftboat investigation of Whitewater. Olson also personally represented Bush in the 2000 election coup in Florida.
Olson almost makes Gonzales look good. He is campaigning for Rudy Giuliani in 2008, and is the chairman of Giuliani’s Justice Advisory Committee. In a recent National Review article entitled, "Two for the Price of One: The presidency and the judiciary," Olson openly admitted his goal is to stack the courts with "jurists in the mold of Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito and Chief Justices Rehnquist and Roberts," and Giuliani is the guy who will do just that.
And then there's Judge Laurence (Scary Larry) Silberman. Should his name pop up for confirmation, I'll wager the Democrats won't remember, or will hope we don't remember that Silberman is the Reagan campaign operative who worked behind the scenes with Iran's Khomeini regime to successfully delay release of American hostages until after the 1980 election.
Silberman's reward was a seat on the powerful right-wing U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where he was instrumental in changing the course of history by intervening in the Iran-Contra scandal. Investigative journalist Martin McLaughlin writes that Silberman's "most important decision on the Court of Appeals came in the case of Lt. Col. Oliver North, the principal figure in the Iran-Contra affair. Silberman and fellow justice David Sentelle, a former aide to arch-right-wing Republican Senator Jesse Helms, voided the convictions of both North and Admiral John Poindexter in 1990. Their intervention played a key role in sabotaging the investigation by Iran-Contra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh."
The Democrats may discover that confirming a new attorney general is not as easy as ABC. We could go on through the alphabet and find other candidates, such as Poppy's Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger, the leader of the Bush-Cheney coup team during the Florida recount, or former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, who left government service shortly after the Iraq invasion for a saner position at the helm of PepsiCo.
It's likely Bush won't be able to resist ramming a political firecracker in the mouths of Democrats just to see their heads explode by nominating Connecticut donkey Sen. Joe Lieberman, who has spent the last six years selling his soul to prove to Bush he's a team player who really really wants to be attorney general. Democrats would be forced to reject the totally unacceptable Lieberman, or accept him and split the Senate down the middle while Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell appoints a Republican to replace him.
Nothing will change with Gonzales' departure, because each candidate on Bush's attorney general list is Gonzo "squared" -- each one committed to do the Gonzo Boogie from now until January 2009. Until then, the Democrats will continue to struggle with their attention-deficit disorder (ADD), and the American people will sink deeper into the morass of national post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).