Giving it all away

Specter calls Gonzales "wily" and "misleading," but what is he going to do about it?

Published August 2, 2007 5:14PM (EDT)

The good news for Alberto Gonzales: Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he has come to the conclusion that the attorney general is not guilty of perjury.

The bad news for Alberto Gonzales: Specter says the attorney general is a "wily" and "misleading" witness, and that, "when the committee finishes its investigation and files a report, we may well see the end" of his tenure in office.

The bad news for the rest of us: Specter seems willing to give up the farm in order to get to the end of the investigation, and yet there's still no reason to think that the president will dump the "wily" and "misleading" attorney general when it's over.

At a Judiciary Committee hearing today, Specter said he's willing to cave in on virtually every sticking point between the committee and the White House when it comes to the testimony of Harriet Miers, Karl Rove and others. The requirement that the witnesses testify under oath? "I have said some time ago that I'm prepared to give up the oath," Specter said. The requirement that the testimony be public? "It doesn't have to be public. I'd prefer public . . . but I would agree to a closed session." The requirement that there be a transcript of the witnesses' testimony? "I think a transcript is minimal," Specter said, "but I'd even be prepared to give that up."

And that's not all Specter is willing to give up. The senator noted this morning that the Bush administration's proposed changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act would give the director of national intelligence and the attorney general the authority to approve intercepts without waiting for a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. "I think it preferable not to have the attorney general involved," Specter said, "but I would not stand in the way of this critical legislation being enacted, even under those limited circumstances."

No, senator, of course you wouldn't.

By Tim Grieve

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

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Arlen Specter D-pa. Department Of Justice Espionage