Spent most of the day watching the Judiciary committee hearing with Kyle Sampson and wanted to jot a quick observation before I have to leave for work.
I have now spent two days in a row – and many more going back to January – watching Bush Admin figures testifying in front of Congress, and the pattern is always the same, what I call the Sgt Schultz Defense:
1. “I don’t remember.” “I don’t recall.” “I have no memory of that.”
This was the way Reagan answered questions in the Iran/Contra trial, but he had Alzheimer’s. What’s everybody else’s excuse?
Sampson, while unable to remember who he had talked to – or when or where – about the prosecutors who were on the firing list, showed almost total recall when it came to what he was thinking months and months ago when he wrote letters and emails. Where he fudged every act, fact, and conversation with “I think” or “I may have” or, more often, “I don’t think I did”, he was able to describe in detail what he thought about without hedging.
This is a new kind of selective memory to me – the kind where fleeting thoughts are crystal clear months after the fact but actions are fuzzy.
2. “I don’t know.” “I wasn’t in the loop.” “Nobody told me.”
A lot of that today. To hear Sampson tell it, he was having all kinds of conversations with people in the JD and WH about the “process” of firing lawyers but in none of them did anyone ever tell him what the criteria were for the firings or why they made the decisions they made to fire the people they fired. He was simply clueless, and he never asked.
Claimed ignorance is one of a loyal Bushie’s best defenses.
3. “There are no records.” “We can’t find them.” “We lost them.” “You can’t have them.”
Sampson’s was Version 1.0: there weren’t any. He claims there wasn’t even a file except for some random notes he kept in the bottom right-hand drawer of his desk. Nothing to see here. Move along.
At the end of the hearing he admitted to NY Sen Chuck Schumer that as far as he knew (there’s that modifier again) no one ever checked to see if the complaints against the US Attorneys who were fired for “performance-related” reasons were true or not. No one checked their records before deciding they were underperforming, and as far as he knows no performance review was ever initiated much less carried out.
Libby, Gonzales, Doan and Sampson. If you take their statements at face value, they operated in a vacuum without direction from the top, kept lousy files when they bothered to keep them at all, have memories so faulty they can barely remember what they had for breakfast, and never bothered to tell their bosses what they were up to even in the most delicate of political situations – especially in the most delicate of political situations.
And all but Libby were inexperienced neophytes. Sampson passed the bar in 1998 and was hired by Gonzo in 2004 to be the JD’s Chief of Staff. He had tried fewer than a half-dozen cases, only one of them criminal, before he was put into one of the most important jobs at Justice. The only experience Gonzo had was as Bush’s lawyer.
What a crew.