Following Gonzales' dismal performance at the Senate hearings yesterday, the illegal wire-tapping story now has even more political traction.
In case you missed it, Gonzales claimed, among other things:
President Washington, President Lincoln, President Wilson, President Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale.and admitted:
I think, based on my experience, it is true -- you would assume that the enemy is presuming that we are engaged in some kind of surveillance. But if they're not reminded about it all the time in the newspapers and in stories, they sometimes forget.Gonzales also claimed that Al Quaeda today poses a greater threat to the USA than Russia's thousands of nuclear warheads did during the Cold War, and that the original FISA law was not intended to deal with today's unprecedented threat (Jimmy Carter, the man who authorized the FISA law in 1978, has something to say about that).
So now the whole world knows that Gonzales is not only an incompetent stooge and a liar, but also an idiot. Even Republicans are pissed, and that's where things get interesting.
Republicans who still have anything resembling the vestiges of a conscience are now facing a moral dilemma that could make their heads explode - do I do the right thing, or help the Grand Old Party win just one more election?
The situation is now so serious that Karl Rove has threatened to blacklist any Republican who votes against the president:
The sources said the blacklist would mean a halt in any White House political or financial support of senators running for re-election in November.
"It's hardball all the way," a senior GOP congressional aide said.
The sources said the administration has been alarmed over the damage that could result from the Senate hearings, which began on Monday, Feb. 6. They said the defection of even a handful of Republican committee members could result in a determination that the president violated the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Such a determination could lead to impeachment proceedings.
Over the last few weeks, Mr. Rove has been calling in virtually every Republican on the Senate committee as well as the leadership in Congress. The sources said Mr. Rove's message has been that a vote against Mr. Bush would destroy GOP prospects in congressional elections.
"He's [Rove] lining them up one by one," another congressional source said.