Alberto Gonzales Alberto Gonzales holds a press conference, Tuesday 13-Mar-07.

"Mistakes were made here"

No shit!

Give him credit, you couldn't see him sweat. Having been caught out firing US Attorneys for blatantly political reasons and then telling bald-faced lies about it to Congress, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did a song and dance routine before the cameras yesterday. His eyes had that deer-in-the-headlights look, but any beads of perspiration were well hidden.

I acknowledge that mistakes were made here; I accept that responsibility. And my pledge to the American people is to find out what went wrong here, to assess accountability, and to make improvements so that the mistakes that occurred in this instance do not occur again in the future.

Finally, let me just say one thing. I've overcome a lot of obstacles in my life to become attorney general. I am here not because I give up; I am here because I've learned from my mistakes, because I accept responsibility, and because I'm committed to doing my job.
—Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General

Seven — or eight, depending on who's counting — US attorneys were recently fired en masse. Since it is highly unusual for eight US attorneys to be dismissed all at once in the middle of a president's term, questions were raised, and, as late as 7 March, Gonzales was still insisting in an op-ed essay, "It was for reasons related to policy, priorities and management — what have been referred to broadly as "performance-related" reasons that seven U.S. attorneys were asked to resign last December." He went on to say "I hope that this episode ultimately will be recognized for what it is: an overblown personnel matter" (USAToday).

Harriet Miers

There the kerfuffle might have ended, except that Congress is now in the hands of Democrats who can wield the power of subpoena. A sheaf of emails emerged revealing that not only was the White House not "not involved," as had been said, but the White House was involved up to the eyeballs. George W Bush himself, Karl Rove, and even hapless Harriet Miers all had a hand in the affair.

Congress was not amused. Senators and Representatives, Democrats and Republicans alike, strode to the microphone to complain that they had been lied to — yes, the L-word was uttered — and they would get to the bottom of it! The resignation of Alberto's chief of staff would not be enough, they said, refusing to accept him as another "fall guy" for higher ups. It was simply astonishing to see Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) standing side-by-side agreeing with each other.

Later on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Leahy vowed "to bring the attorney general up here. I am requesting several other people to come up here, certainly Mr. Sampson, Ms. Miers, I assume eventually Karl Rove. If they don't come, then I'll seek to subpoena them up here, because the story changes almost every time we pick up the newspaper."

Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) agreed, "We're not going to quit until every one of these people has testified and we know the whole truth about the failure to be candid about these firings." He went on to call for heads to roll:

So let's not mix whether or not these people should have been let go or the president had a right to do, with the fact that all of us want to know who led Congress astray. The House and the Senate were lied to, not by the people that were sent to the Hill, but by the people who sent them there. And every one of those people owes us a resignation.

Gonzales is already in hot water because of the illegal use of national security letters by the FBI, and now this. Oh, yes, mistakes were made! Gonzales should never have been confirmed as Attorney General in the first place. His whole career has been spent telling George Bush what he wanted to hear. What made anybody think he would change just because his job changed?

For that matter, George W Bush should never have been elected (selected for the first term) for that matter, and for that the American people are squarely to blame.

Cartoonists have begun the well-deserved skewering. Check out the slideshow. I'll be adding to it as more editorial cartoons appear.