In an interview with NBC, embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wouldn’t give a straight answer to the question, “Can you be certain that none of these U.S. Attorneys were put on that list [to be fired] for improper reasons?” (Video at Think Progress.)
Instead, he said, “If I find out that, in fact, any of these decisions were motivated, the recommendations to me were motivated for improper reasons to interfere with the public corruption case, there will be swift and — there will be swift and decisive action. I can assure you that.”
He’s trying to be Mr. Super-Accountable-Tough-Guy. But really, Gonzales is just blaming his staff. I know the idea of a fall guy isn’t rare in Washington, and Gonzo’s chief of staff has already packed up his stuff and headed home, but to say, essentially, “Anyone in Justice could be guilty of doing something wrong — except me,” well, that’s pretty ballsy. And further, to argue that the only reason you should be exempt from blame is because you were the only one who didn’t have the straight dope — that’s “write a memo justifying torture, including crushing the testicles of a terrorist’s child, and do it all with a straight face” ballsy. A whole different level, you see.
Interesting note tangentially related to all this: Gonzales will be sitting on the same roundtable discussion as Patrick Fitzgerald today, as part of a program on keeping children safe from online predators. It was Fitzgerald’s rating on the DoJ’s list of U.S. Attorneys — “not distinguished” — that proved to a lot of people that the DoJ had completely divorced their evaluations from actual job performance. Fitzgerald won the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 and is widely seen as one of the best warriors in the DoJ army.