Hobby horse time!
Question: How can you tell when a government agency has gone for years without effective oversight?
Answer: It gets sloppy, keeps poor records and starts breaking the law.
Question 2: What happens when oversight comes back?
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has retreated from public view this week in an intensive effort to save his job, spending hours practicing testimony and phoning lawmakers for support in preparation for pivotal appearances in the Senate this month, according to administration officials.
After struggling for weeks to explain the extent of his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales and his aides are viewing the Senate testimony on April 12 and April 17 as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment, officials said.
Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and Timothy E. Flanigan, who worked for Gonzales at the White House, have met with the attorney general to plot strategy. The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week and Gonzales has placed phone calls to more than a dozen GOP lawmakers seeking support, officials said.
Let’s clarify that in a normal administration the Attorney General’s panic would make no sense. Clinton officials, who spent half their time sitting in front of hostile committees, didn’t drop their jobs and cram for weeks before appearing. If the decisions surrounding the US Attorney purge left the normal kind of paper trail then Gonzales could just produce those to Congress and then answer questions about them. Maybe reasons were innocuous, maybe they were a little bit shady, whatever. Unless they spell out an explicit illegality like conspiracy to obstruct justice Gonzo wouldn’t have to sweat like a prospective contestant on Who Wants To Be Incarcerated?
As I see it the problem mainly stems from the simple point that when people operate without oversight, they get sloppy. That holds especially true for Bushies since the quality of a policy fades in importance relative its ideological purity. Without an effective check these guys always run off into crazy Feith world. So when Gonzo lied about something as banal as whether he or Rove played a role in the firings I don’t think he meant to cover up a specific crime as much as he was simply showing his usual contempt for Congress. He lied because yesterday’s Congress didn’t seem to care one way or the other. Old habits die hard.
Add another couple nights to the cram session.