Opinion: Alibi Al


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He hasn’t yet said that the dog ate his memo, but U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is proving to be a master of shifting the blame. Gonzales was the victim of a bipartisan beating Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee for what senators regarded as unresponsive and/or incredible answers. But Gonzales was forthcoming -– about what other people did.

Gonzales described the now infamous visit to John Ashcroft’s hospital bed as originating not with him or former White House chief of staff Andy Card but with the “Gang of Eight” members of Congress who oversaw intelligence activities.


It was the consensus of that meeting, Gonzales said, that the unspecified intelligence program should be reauthorized despite the opposition of Acting Attorney General James Comey. One of the “gang,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) said Gonzales ‘is making up something to protect himself.” Another, Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice, said the AG was selectively declassifying a secret meeting in order to spin things his way.

Passing the buck is nothing new for Gonzales, who suggested that the invisible hands that fashioned a hit list of U.S. attorneys might have belonged to his deputy, Paul McNulty. Who’s next? His compadre George W. Bush? Or, now that it’s summertime, a Justice Department intern?