Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I don't want RR's head to explode

But after reading his post below, read the following, perhaps the only time John Ashcroft came out as a sympathetic figure in his life.

From Salon:

The call came at 8 p.m., Wednesday, March 10, 2004. Attorney General John Ashcroft was in the hospital, struck with a life-threatening case of pancreatitis. Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey was just leaving his office, being chauffeured by his security detail.

"I remember exactly where I was, on Constitution Avenue," Comey testified Tuesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "And [I] got a call from Attorney General Ashcroft's chief of staff telling me that he had gotten a call."

So begins a remarkable tale that nearly led to the resignation of the Justice Department's senior leadership, an ordeal that was recounted in great detail for the first time Tuesday. Two senior White House officials, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales, were headed to Ashcroft's hospital bed, despite the instructions of his wife that there would be no phone calls or visitors. They wanted Ashcroft to sign off on the secret National Security Agency wiretapping program, a program that Ashcroft had already decided to reject before falling ill.

Comey was determined to stop them. "So I hung up the phone," Comey told the committee, and I "immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called [FBI] Director [Robert] Mueller and -- with whom I'd been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week -- and told him what was happening. He said, 'I'll meet you at the hospital right now.' [I] told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital. I got out of the car and ran up -- literally ran up the stairs with my security detail."

The story gets better at this point. Comey's testimony reads like a detective story. Minutes later, there is a showdown in the hospital room. Ashcroft, buffered by his wife and three of his senior deputies, faces down Gonzales and Card and refuses to sign off on the spy program. Gonzales and Card storm out of the room. Card calls Comey and demands that he come to the White House, but Comey refuses to go until he can get Ted Olson, the solicitor general, to accompany him. "After what I just witnessed, I will not meet with you without a witness," Comey tells Card.

Read the rest. It's scary stuff.


1 comment:

Rousing Rabble said...

Yeah Doc - this is an excerpt from the story that drove me over the brink. It is about as scary a piece of testimony regrading official misconduct as I've ever read...