Leahy Facing the Nation | Freyne Land

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Leahy Facing the Nation

Posted By on Sun, Jul 29, 2007 at 2:16 PM

That tall, bald guy from Vermont, the one who chairs the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, along with his Republican co-chair, were the lead-off guests on Face the Nation on CBS this morning.

As you know Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, a longtime George W. Bush political operative, was back before the Judiciary Committee last week.

No smiles or joking around today. Serious faces, very serious faces, only.

Neither Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, nor Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, nor Host Bob Schieffer, beat around the bush. As Schieffer put it, "This week Democrats called for a special prosecutor to determine if the Attorney General of the United States, the highest law-enforcement officer in the government, has been lying to your committee in Congress."

LEAHY: A lot of us, Republicans and Democrats, were incredulous at some of the answers. I told him frankly, I don’t trust him. But in fairness, I’ve given him the testimony, he has a week to correct it if he wants. I suggest he consult with a lawyer as he does it.

If he doesn’t correct it, then I think that there are so many errors in there, then the pressure will be very. very heavily whether it’s a special prosecutor, a special counsel , efforts within the Congress.

The irony is, though, the Department of Justice [DOJ], which is supposed to be very impartial, is being shredded by his activities. And if you lose confidence in law enforcement, it hurts everybody all the way down to the cop on the beat.

Frankly, at this point, the President ought to take a long look at this and ask - does he want to go down in history with this attorney general as part of his historical record?

Let me just ask you, if he doesn’t change his testimony, then will you go along with the four Democratic senators who say there should be a special prosecutor?

I think if he doesn’t change it, what I want to do is spend some time with {GOP Vice-Chairman] Sen. Arlen Specter. This is a matter I’d like to approach in a bipartisan fashion. I think that we would also be asking whoever’s left there at the Department of Justice who doesn’t have to r'accuse themselves, to take this, go through it and give us some recommendations back.

Schieffer: [To Specter in Philly] What do you think should be the next step here, Senator?

SPECTER: Well, I think we ought to give the Attorney General a chance to correct the record. There’s no doubt, as I have said repeatedly for months now, that the DOJ would be much-better without him...

The DOJ is second only to the Department of Defense in protecting the American people...and that department is dysfunctional and it’s been dysfunctional for a long time.

LEAHY: I think it’s important because law enforcement is supposed to be impartial and it’s supposed to follow the law. Here we have an administration that feels they’re above the law, that the law applies to everybody except them. And we have a DOJ that goes along with that.

I was a prosecutor. Arlen Specter was a prosecutor. A number of us in there, both Republicans and Democrats, are really upset with this because we know how law enforcement is supposed to work. This is going to have a devastating effect on law enforcement throughout the country if it’s not cleared up.

  What should the President do?

LEAHY: Well, many of us have said he should fire the Attorney General, but I think it’s more than that. I think he has to state: "We in the Administration have made some bad mistakes in saying we’re above the law."

Nobody’s above the law.

Tell that to Scooter Libby, eh?

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About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

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