Editorial — And Attorney’s Op-Ed — Hit Bush on Crisis

By: E&P Staff

In an editorial on Wednesday, The New York Times termed President Bush’s explanation of why he would not allow top aides to testify under oath about the firing of eight U.S. attorneys as “nasty and bumbling comments.” Across the page it published an op-ed by one of the ousted attorneys.

The Washington Post, meanwhile, in a front-page story on Wednesday declared that the latest e-mails released “show a confused and divided Justice Department under siege in a political crisis largely of its own making.”

The Times’ editorial called the president’s limited proposal “a formula for hiding the truth, and for protecting the president and his staff from a legitimate inquiry by Congress. The Democratic leaders were right to reject the offer, despite Mr. Bush?s threat to turn this dispute into a full-blown constitutional confrontation.

“Congress has the right and the duty to fully investigate the firings, which may have been illegal, and Justice Department officials? statements to Congress, which may have been untrue. It needs to question Karl Rove, Mr. Bush?s chief political adviser, Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and other top officials.

“It is hard to imagine what, besides evading responsibility, the White House had in mind. Why would anyone refuse to take an oath on a matter like this, unless he were not fully committed to telling the truth? And why would Congress accept that idea, especially in an investigation that has already been marked by repeated false and misleading statements from administration officials?”

At the same time, the paper published an op-ed by one of the attorneys who was fired. David C. Iglesias of New Mexico writes, “With this week?s release of more than 3,000 Justice Department e-mail messages about the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors, it seems clear that politics played a role in the ousters.

“Of course, as one of the eight, I?ve felt this way for some time….

“In one of the documents released this week, I was deemed a ‘diverse up and comer’ in 2004. Two years later I was asked to resign with no reasons given.

“President Bush addressed this scandal yesterday. I appreciate his gratitude for my service ? this marks the first time I have been thanked. But only a written retraction by the Justice Department setting the record straight regarding my performance would settle the issue for me.”

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