In a really reprehensible bit of legerdemain, Time Magazine blares today: “In what could prove an embarrassing new setback for embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the eve of his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a group of influential conservatives and longtime Bush supporters has written a letter to the White House to call for his resignation.” (Emphasis added.)
And who are these “influential conservatives and longtime Bush supporters”? They include former Congressman Bob Barr, a relentless critic of the Patriot Act, and law professor Bruce Fein, formerly an official in the Reagan Justice Department, who has been a dependably shrill critic of the NSA surveillance program — to the point of suggesting that perhaps President Bush should be impeached over it. Here’s a little ditty from “longtime Bush supporter” Fein that the ACLU has found so helpful it is featured prominently on the organization’s website:
Bruce Fein, Constitutional Scholar and former Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration (Diane Rehm Show, 12/19/05)
Asked if spying on the American people was as impeachable an offense as lying and having sex with an intern, Fein replied:
“I think the answer requires at least in part considering what the occupant of the presidency says in the aftermath of wrongdoing or rectification. On its face, if President Bush is totally unapologetic and says I continue to maintain that as a wartime President I can do anything I want – I don’t need to consult any other branches – that is an impeachable offense. It’s more dangerous that Clinton’s lying under oath because it jeopardizes our democratic dispensation and civil liberties for the ages. It would set a precedent that … would lie around like a loaded gun, able to be used indefinitely for any future occupant.”
With longtime supporters like this, who needs enemies? There’s a lot of conservative unhappiness with Gonzales’s overall tenure, but I daresay most conservatives think the U.S. attorneys controversy has been blown way out of proportion. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for people to head for the exits just because Fein and Barr are pointing the way.