Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Gonzales escapes prosecution for top-secret mistakes
Too bad everybody isn't entitled to the deference by prosecutors afforded to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week. The Justice Department decided not to prosecute Gonzales for mishandling top-secret government documents in 2005, even though an internal investigation concluded that he had, in fact, improperly took home classified notes and reports on the secret domestic wiretap program launched by President Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks. "Gonzales mishandled classified materials while serving as attorney general," the report concluded, according to the Reuters international news service. Gonzales resigned under pressure in 2007 after suspicions were raised that the Justice Department fired U.S. attorneys for political reasons. The national security division of the department's inspector general's office said Tuesday it would not prosecute Gonzales for improper handling of classified documents, apparently because the violations appear to be unintentional. An attorney for Gonzales, George Terwilliger, said Gonzales never intended for the materials, which included notes Gonzales made of an emergency congressional briefing about the secret wiretap program in 2004 before he became attorney general, to be disclosed. Gonzales was White House Counsel during the March 10, 2004, briefing, after which he went to the hospital room of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft to try to convince him to reauthorize the wiretapping program, Reuters said.