Bush killed DOJ security clearances, and investigation, of spy program

Tuesday, July 18, 2006 at 06:45 PM

The Washington Post is carrying an AP story that Alberto Gonzalez has told Arlen Specter's Committee that it was George Bush himself who prevented the DOJ's Office of Preofessional Responsibility (OPR) from continuing their investigation into what role DOJ lawyers might have played in played in the domestic eavesdropping program.

The DOJ lawyers were refused security clearances required for access to the program and data about it.  Without that clearance, they had no choice but to kill the investigation.

The White House explanation for Bush's action, by way of Tony Snow?  "What he was saying is that in the case of a highly classified program, you need to keep the number of people exposed to it tight for reasons of national security, and that's what he did."

Except.....as the AP story points out:

...according to OPR chief Marshall Jarrett, "a large team" of prosecutors and FBI agents were granted security clearances to pursue an investigation into leaks of information that resulted in the program's disclosure in December. Justice Department inspector general Glenn A. Fine and two of his aides were among other department officials who were granted clearances, Jarrett said in an April memo explaining the end of his probe. That memo was released by the Justice Department Tuesday.

In other words, if you are carrying out Bush's desire to nail the person who leaked the news of the program to the press, there's no problem in giving tons of people from law enforcement access to the info.  If, however, you want to find out information about the program for purposes contrary to the President's interests, well, can't have every Tom, Dick & Harry knowing about the program just because they're lawyers and employed by the nation's top legal agency, now can we?

Strikes me as a pretty clear case of abuse of Presidential power by the President.  Which leaves us with the same question we've been stuck on for 5 years:  who's got the guts and tenacity to call Bush to account?