This afternoon on Fox News, Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary and current flack for a new White House front group on Iraq escalation, blamed Congress for “dangerously politicizing the Justice Department”:
Republicans were very hard on Janet Reno. Democrats were brutal to John Ashcroft and now Judge Gonzales. What’s happening is Congress is really politicizing the Justice Department, unfairly so and dangerously so, because there are so many important law important functions that go on there. It’s regrettable, both parties have done it.
While Fleischer puts his finger on a real problem — the politicization of the Justice Department — he misdiagnoses the culprit. After six years of Congress’s failing to assert any accountability over the Justice Department, the new 110th Congress revealed the ethical wrongdoings of the Gonzales through aggressive oversight. Here’s a review of the record:
— It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who fired attorneys for political reasons.
— It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who gave the White House political team unprecedented power to intercede in the affairs of the Justice Department.
— It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who dissembled and misled about the administration’s spying activities.
— It was Alberto Gonzales, not Congress, who lied in stating that all Bush appointees would be Senate-confirmed.
In an op-ed entitled “Sinking ship leaves rat,” Michael Tomasky writes, “Gonzales’ legacy is so resoundingly awful that one can’t imagine which of his failures and transgressions his eventual obituary writers and future historians will highlight.”