The verdict is clear: Alberto Gonzales is the lying-est attorney general in recent history. "I don't trust you," Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) told him last month. Ranking member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) sounded him out for his "lack of credibility." "He tells the half truth, the partial truth and everything but the truth," said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that Gonzales. âHeâs one sneaky, lying S.O.B., to put it bluntly" is Rep. David Obey's (D-WI) frank take.
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But even though we've been cataloging the troubles, and Gonzales' dwindling credibility, at the Justice Department for the past several months, we hadn't yet done a rundown. So we've collected below what are, as far as we can tell, Gonzales' six most brazen public untruths.
To do this, we were forced to constrain the endeavor. Gonzales' amazingly faulty memory is clearly cause for strong suspicion -- but his countless "I don't recall"s have not yet been proven to be dishonest. And there have been a stream of dubious statements -- such as that he'd never fire a U.S. attorney for political reasons or his insistence that they were fired for "performance" reasons -- countered by weighty circumstantial evidence. But we've set a high bar. Certainly we expect our little list to lengthen in the future as more evidence is produced -- and as Gonzales continues to speak publicly.
We arrived at the six statements below. Some can be judiciously described as lies, i.e. apparently consciously false statements made with the intent to deceive. Some are better described as "wily" prevarications, or as literally true statements made with the intent to deceive or cover up. (I count #2-5 in the former category, #1 and #6 in the latter.)
Yesterday, Sen. Leahy requested that the Justice Department's inspector general investigate five public statements that Gonzales had made -- the same five statements that we chose as #1-5 in our tally. Certainly these statements will play a significant role in impeachment proceedings, should Democrats decide to go that route.