Senators to Gonzales: Start remembering

Leahy, Specter complain that the attorney general was "unprepared" for questions he should have seen coming.

Published April 25, 2007 6:33PM (EDT)

In a letter to Alberto Gonzales, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy and ranking Republican member Arlen Specter tell the attorney general he should get busy "searching and refreshing" his memory in order to answer questions he didn't answer when he appeared before their committee last week.

"You spent weeks preparing for the April 19th hearing," Leahy and Specter tell Gonzales in the letter. "Yet during your testimony, in response to questions from senators on both sides of the aisle, you often responded that you could not recall. By some counts, you failed to answer more than 100 questions, by other counts more than 70, but the most conservative count had you failing to provide answers well over 60 times. As a result, the committee's efforts to learn the truth of why and how these dismissals [of U.S. attorneys] took place, and the role you and other Department and White House officials played in them, has been hampered."

Leahy and Specter tell Gonzales that the questions he faced last week should not have come as a surprise to him, and they set forth the dates and details of the letters in which he was told about the subject matter the committee would be covering with him. "You were, nevertheless, unprepared to answer those questions," they say.

Leahy and Specter are asking Gonzales to "supplement" his answers within a week. Some small comfort for the attorney general: He won't be the only administration official having to answer to Congress in the coming weeks. On a party-line vote, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee today ordered Condoleezza Rice to appear before it next month to explain her role in the administration's misuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Arlen Specter D-pa. Department Of Justice Patrick J. Leahy