Oust Gonzales (But Don’t Stop There)

Bill Scher

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., defended plans for a Senate no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, saying, “The president can keep him. He has the constitutional power to do it. But we have the constitutional power to try to pressure the president to understand that Gonzales is no good.”

Today, documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald reminded Schumer and the rest of Congress there’s another constitutional power at their disposal: impeachment.

ImpeachGonzales.org features a bruising short from Greenwald’s Brave New Films, depicting Gonzales’ incredulous evasions regarding the Prosecutor Purge. And the site’s impeachment petition has scored over 25,000 signatures in less than a day.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Penn., speculated that the prospect of a no-confidence vote would prompt Gonzales to resign. However, others have presumed that bipartisan condemnation and persistent negative media coverage would make resignation inevitable. Yet he’s still there.

Impeachment is not only justified—political interference in our justice system surely meets the “high crimes and misdemeanors” constitutional standard—but because we have a White House that thumbs its nose at the public will, it may be the only resource to oust the man who is destroying the credibility of the Justice Department.

But don’t kid yourself.

Removing Gonzales by no means solves the problem of politicization of the Justice Department, and does not hold everyone involved in the Prosecutor Purge accountable.

There is no guarantee, and no reason to expect, that President Bush would appoint a replacement that would end the politicization—since undermining the civil service is a central goal of his presidency and the conservative movement.

And ousting Gonzales does not answer the critical question of the Prosecutor Purge: Who put the prosecutors’ names on the purge list and why?

By threatening subpoenas, Congress has been trying to get White House officials to testify in public to get that question answered.

Conservatives calling for Gonzales’ resignation hope that it would “put this behind us,” so Congress will stop trying to get it answered. But we can’t put this behind us until that question is answered, and everyone involved is held accountable.

Gonzales must go, but it does not end there.

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