Bush Blocked Investigation of Warrantless Spying Because Gonzales Was Target of Inquiry

Brian Zick

Murray Waas for the National Journal reports: Shortly before Attorney General Alberto Gonzales advised President Bush last year on whether to shut down a Justice Department inquiry regarding the administration's warrantless domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the investigation, according to government records and interviews. Bush personally intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe in April 2006 by taking the unusual step of denying investigators the security clearances necessary for their work. (…) Current and former Justice Department officials, as well as experts in legal ethics, question the propriety of Gonzales's continuing to advise Bush about the investigation after learning that it might examine his own actions. The attorney general, they say, was remiss if he did not disclose that information to the president. But if Gonzales did inform Bush about the possibility and the president responded by stymieing the probe, that would raise even more-serious questions as to whether Bush acted to protect Gonzales, they said. (…) Charles Wolfram, a professor emeritus of legal ethics at Cornell University Law School, said that if Gonzales did not inform the president, Gonzales ill-served Bush and abused "the discretion of his office" for his own benefit. However, if Gonzales did inform Bush that the probe might harm Gonzales, then "both [men] are abusing the discretion of their offices," Wolfram said. (…) A senior federal law enforcement official said in an interview that granting clearances to nongovernmental citizens while refusing to grant them to department attorneys demonstrates "that the decision not to grant clearances to OPR had everything to do with politics and nothing to do with keeping national security secrets." Current and former Justice Department officials called Bush's actions unprecedented in the office's history. via Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker

Brandon Johnson
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