Alberto Gonzales’s Role in the Plame Cover-Up

As Senators start to pile on our lamentable Attorney General for presiding over Karl Rove’s politicization of the US Attorneys Office — an offense known as ‘obstruction of justice’ — I would like to direct your attention to a similar but somehow forgotten scandal.

Everyone seems to have forgotten that then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales also presided over one of the more sordid aspects of the Plame scandal. When Gonzales first learned that the Justice Department had started an official investigation into the Plame leak, Gonzales waited twelve hours before putting the White House staff on notice that they had to preserve documents and electronic files. Which seemed than — and seems now — like an open invitation to “shredding and deleting,” not to mention getting your story straight. In short, obstruction of justice.

And it’s not as if Gonzales dithered trying to make up his mind what to do. He told White House Chief of Staff Andy Card about the investigation right away — many hours before sending the official notification to preserve all evidence.

Here’s how Senator Harkin described the sequence of events back in October 2003:

On September 26, the Department of Justice officially launches its investigation.

Interestingly, it took 4 days after that “official” launch for the Justice Department to call White House Counsel Gonzales and notify him of the official investigation. Gonzalez then asked for an extra day before the Justice Department gave the White House the official notice, which means all documents and records must be preserved.

A recent letter was sent to the President from Senators Daschle, Schumer, Levin, and Biden which also expresses concern about this break from regular procedure.

They wrote:

Every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that the first step in such an investigation would be to ensure all potentially relevant evidence is preserved, yet the Justice Department waited four days before making a formal request for documents.

Interestingly, the letter goes on:

When the Justice Department finally asked the White House to order employees to preserve documents, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales asked for permission to delay transmitting the order to preserve evidence until morning. The request for a delay was granted. Again, every former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that such a delay is a significant departure from standard practice.

Lest you think this is much ado about nothing, consider that when Patrick Fitzgerald came looking, key emails to or from the Vice President’s office mysteriously could not be found in the White House computer system’s archives.

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6 Responses to Alberto Gonzales’s Role in the Plame Cover-Up

  1. DE says:

    Someone recused himself because it was going to be Plame prosecuted.

  2. DE says:

    Someone recused himself because it was going to be Plame prosecuted.

  3. Chabuka says:

    Is it a conspiracy yet…? Are there any jail cells next to Scooters, available..? And how about Gonzales giving BushCo “permission” to torture, through some obscure reasoning? When can we expect indictments and prosecution..

  4. MikaelMN says:

    Thanks for reminding us of this, Michael. There has been so much being unearthed lately with over 62 investigations running concurrently that it is impossible to remember half of them, much less the details like this without help from patriots like you who are working with us to hold this – and future – White House Administrations accountable.

    We are posting a link to this on our site under this url:

    Mikael Rudolph

  5. Reg says:

    We reported this way back when. The bottom line is that the Bush administration has been immune to any oversight from day one. We asked why George W. Bush was above the law….and really got nowhere because the complicit corporate media have always been part of the cover up.

  6. Jim E says:

    When are the American people going to say ‘conspiracy”? Then the real investigations can begin, and the real haters of our Freedoms and Liberty can be brought to justice. Starting with that embaressment of a president and going through the whole cabal right down to Barney. Leave nobody out. Any and all government officials (from both parties), the media cover up specialists (liars) and their bosses, war profiteers, and all those who contributed to the shredding of the Constitution could be rounded up and sent to Gitmo. They could the be tried by a Citizens Tribunal, with no right to the due process they so fervently deny others. Hold them in isolation with no charges filed, no lawyers, no rights and no protection from torture. Just hold them for 3 or 4 years in that hell, for they are the real terrorists.
    Sounds radical and un-American when you may be put in that position, doesn’t it Mr. Chaney?

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