Thursday, March 29, 2007

It's not the crime, it's the cover up

What's interesting to me about this latest scandal - one which pales in comparison to, say, outing a CIA agent, for example - is that here, no one from the White House even had to lie about firing the federal judges for political reasons. They do serve at the President's discretion.

What's intriguing is, the White House DID lie about it. Which makes you wonder then, why?

Democrats viewed [Kyle Sampson's] testimony as key to finding the answers to the political question and a second, investigative query: Did Gonzales and the Justice Department provide misleading accounts of the run-up to the firings?

Like the first question, the answer to the second is yes, according to a Justice Department letter accompanying new documents released hours before Sampson's appearance.

The Justice Department admitted Wednesday that it gave senators inaccurate information about the firings and presidential political adviser Karl Rove's role in trying to secure a U.S. attorney's post in Arkansas for one of his former aides, Tim Griffin.

Justice officials acknowledged that a Feb. 23 letter to four Democratic senators erred in asserting that the department was not aware of any role Rove played in the decision to appoint Griffin to replace U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling said that certain statements in last month's letter to Democratic lawmakers appeared to be "contradicted by department documents included in our production."

That admission, only hours before Sampson's testimony, took some of the sting out of Democrats' key pieces of evidence that the administration had misled Congress.

Still, Sampson provided plenty of fodder. He acknowledged planning the firings as much as two years ago with the considered, collective judgment of a number of senior Justice Department officials.

However, he denied that the firings were improper, and he spoke dismissively of Democrats' condemnation of what they call political pressure in the firings.

Sampson maintained that adherence to the priorities of the president and attorney general was a legitimate standard.

SO. Why the misleading letters, the subsequent denials, and the outright lies? Unless there's more to the story.

Clearly, given a choice between being truthful or being misleading, the White House will always errs on the side of not telling the truth.

And this isn't even one of the worst scandals at the White House. To me, it's like going after Al Capone for tax evasion.

Of course, they got Al Capone on tax evasion...