Even Bush appointees in DOJ tried to stop NSA spying

Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 08:24 AM

Raw Story has a piece on an upcoming Newsweek story on how "Bush appointees revolted over executive branch overreach," with an excerpt beginning:

James Comey, a lanky, 6-foot-8 former prosecutor who looks a little like Jimmy Stewart, resigned as deputy attorney general in the summer of 2005. The press and public hardly noticed. Comey's farewell speech, delivered in the Great Hall of the Justice Department, contained all the predictable, if heartfelt, appreciations. But mixed in among the platitudes was an unusual passage. Comey thanked "people who came to my office, or my home, or called my cell phone late at night, to quietly tell me when I was about to make a mistake; they were the people committed to getting it right--and to doing the right thing--whatever the price. These people," said Comey, "know who they are. Some of them did pay a price for their commitment to right, but they wouldn't have it any other way."

The full article at Newsweek notes that "a secret but intense rebellion of a small coterie of Bush administration lawyers," which included a former assistant attorney general named Jack Goldsmith as well as James Comey, occurred over the now famous NSA warrantless spying program. What were these lawyers, Bush appointees, demanding?  That "the White House stop using what they saw as farfetched rationales for riding rough-shod over the law and the Constitution."  And they "did so at their peril; ostracized, some were denied promotions, while others left for more comfortable climes in private law firms and academia."

Remind anybody of anything?  Remember "The Saturday Night Massacre" in the Watergate investigation, when Nixon tried to get Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor?  Richardson resigned instead.  So Nixon tried to get William Ruckleshaus, next in line at DOJ, to fire Cox.  Ruckleshaus resigned.  Next in line was Robert Bork (yup, him, just in case you'd forgotten why Bork got roasted by the Senate when Reagan nominated him to the Supreme Court).  Being who he was, Bork said okey-dokey and fired Cox.  This all occurred on October 20, 1973.

On October 23, the House Judiciary Committee announced that it was beginning investigation into impeachment.

Ah, the never-ending similarities between Nixon and Bush, between Watergate and the various illegalities this arrogant administration inflicts on its subjects on a regular basis. It's good to know that there are Republicans and conservatives with consciences still roaming around out there.  But there's always a Bork or two hundred, too.

Too bad the rebellion of conscience in Bush's Justice Department was so much less public than the battle in Nixon's term.  But then, everything under Bush II is less public than under everyone who came before him.  And the House remains in Republican hands which makes the investigation of impeachment charges pretty unlikely.

One thing this story confirms beyond a doubt is what most rational, observant people figured out long ago. In the Bush administration, daring to voice an honest opinion, daring to choose right over the wishes of the King, gets you gone. Ask General Shinseki. Keep that in mind every time the King and his court talk about their supposed willingness to change course if only the experts would tell them that they need to--any expert who tells them to change is long gone when he finishes the telling.

It is going to be a very interesting 2006.