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Gonzales' Sgt. Schultz Defense

April 19, 2007

In his testimony regarding the U.S. attorneys scandal before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales once again offered his Sgt. Schultz defense. Like the bumbling German guard in Hogan's Heroes, Gonzales essentially claimed "I know nothing, nothing!" Sadly, his own recent statements show that while Gonzales may be similarly stupid, he is not ignorant.
The Attorney General's recent op-eds show his dilemma. While claiming to have played no role in the evaluation of the fired attorneys, Gonzales claimed they lost his confidence nonetheless:

"While I am grateful for the public service of these seven U.S. attorneys, they simply lost my confidence." (Alberto Gonzales, March 6th, USA Today Op-Ed)

"During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign." (Alberto Gonzales, April 15, Washington Post Op-Ed)

It's no wonder Senators Feingold and Kennedy took exception to Gonzales' statement this morning that the firings were "justified and should stand." Feingold quizzed Gonzales as to how the USAs lost his "confidence." An incredulous Kennedy asked:

"Since you apparently knew very little about the performance about the replaced United States attorneys, how can you testify that the judgment ought to stand?"

Given the looming checkmate waiting for him this morning, Attorney General Gonzales prepared a possible out. In essence, the AG alerted the Committee in his formal statement released Sunday that he would know less about the scandal than the members themselves:

"The Committee should also know that, to ensure the independence and integrity of these investigations, and the investigations of congressional committees, I have not spoken with nor reviewed the confidential transcripts of any of the Department of Justice employees interviewed by congressional staff. I state this because, as a result, I may be somewhat limited when it comes to providing you with all of the facts that you may desire. I hope you understand that, to me, it was absolutely essential that the investigative work proceeds in a manner free of any complications by my efforts to prepare for this testimony."

Gonzales "know nothing" strategy is reflected throughout his prepared remarks. The expressions "I do recall" or "I do not recall" occur 14 times in 25 pages. And no doubt, today's testimony will generate dozens more.
Ultimately, the parallels between Alberto Gonzales and Sergeant Schultz are fitting. Schultz, after all, was repeatedly duped by those on his watch. And at the end of the day, Schultz lost the war.

3 comments on “Gonzales' Sgt. Schultz Defense”

  1. Attorney Generals aren't allowed to use political weasel words. Time for him to do the right thing and resign :/


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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