August 27th, 2007
01:19 PM ET
7 years ago

Clinton: Next attorney general must care about the law

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (CNN) - Sen. Hillary Clinton said Monday that the next attorney general should "care about the rule of law more than he cares about protecting the president."

"The next attorney general," she continued, "when he takes an oath to uphold the Constitution, actually means it."

Clinton made the comments regarding the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during an appearance at Lance Armstrong's Livestrong Presidential Cancer Forum in Cedar Rapids.

Her remarks came when asked by moderator Chris Matthews whether, as a senator, she would use this as an opportunity to help set standards for selecting the next attorney general.

Clinton continued, "When it comes to issues like torture, surveillance, military commissions, [and] the firing of U.S. Attorneys because they wouldn't pursue a political agenda, we need to be especially vigilant and strong in making sure that whoever the president appoints will work with the Congress to bring us back from this precipice that this administration has put us on."

– CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Related: Edwards happy Gonzales gone
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Related: Gonzales resigns: Obama reaction


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Ricky, we disagree on how to protect this country and that is fine, I believe we need to modify the pre 9-11 mindset and you are ok with the status quo. We agree on needed safeguards, you just want them more stringent and cumbersome, but I wan't the penalties for abusing them to be considered treason.

    Speaking of treason, Sandy Berger and Billy boy, this was my unposted response to your INCORRECT answer that he only stole copies, implying they were the same.

    What did Sandy steal?

    Sandy Berger was director of the National Security Center in the Clinton administration, and as such President Clinton's top adviser on all national security matters. On Sept. 2, 2003, in a secure reading room at the National Archives building in Washington, Berger was reviewing classified documents from the Clinton era, in his capacity as Clinton's point man in providing relevant materials to the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks.

    One such document was a copy of a White House "after-action" report that he himself had commissioned, while still National Security director, to assess the Clinton administration's performance in responding to the so-called millennium terrorist threat before New Year's 2000.I am relying throughout on reports from the New York Times.) Berger put the document in his pocket and walked out of the National Archives with it.

    Exactly a month later, on Oct. 2, 2003, in another visit to the Archives, he stuffed four copies of other versions of the same report into his clothes (some reports have specified his socks) and again walked out of the building with them.

    At his own office later that day, Berger cut three of the copies into small pieces. Two days later staff members at the Archives took the matter up with him. He said the removals were inadvertent, and returned the two remaining copies of the report, but said nothing about the three he had destroyed.

    Berger has now pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in connection with the theft (removing classified material from a government archive), and has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine and give up his security clearance for three years. The charge also carries a maximum sentence of a year in jail, but Berger will be spared the jail time if the court approves his plea bargain.

    The burning question here, of course, is what was in the three documents that Berger destroyed. We can be sure that Berger won't tell us, or more precisely that we will never know whether anything he chooses to say on the subject is a lie. The documents are irretrievably gone, and Berger can carry the secret of their contents to his grave.

    But you can bet your bottom dollar that they weren't Bill Clinton's secret recipes for chicken a la king. In fact, as a practical matter, there is only one thing they could have been, given the huge risk that Berger took in stealing them from the National Archives and destroying them.

    Consider. All five were copies, or (as the Times puts it at one point) "versions," of a single document: an assessment of terrorist threats produced during the Clinton administration. These copies had presumably been distributed to various major figures in the administration, and later collected and placed in the Archives. What interested Berger about five copies of the same document? Presumably, notes scribbled on them by the recipients. And what could have impelled him to destroy three of the five copies, and return the other two? Surely, that the notes on those three copies made it all too clear that somebody high up in the Clinton administration had perceived a threat very much like what happened on Sept. 11, but then failed to do anything whatever about it.

    For whom would Berger be willing to risk a jail sentence? For himself, no doubt, and for President Clinton, and that just about completes the list.

    So Sandy Berger may belong on the roll of those, like Susan McDougall and Webster Hubbell, who have accepted criminal penalties to protect Bill Clinton from the truth. And what Clinton failed to do to defend the nation against terrorists may join his lifetime medical records (which the media generously never demanded) among those interesting things about Slick Willie that the American people will never be privileged to know.

    August 28, 2007 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  2. James, Phoenix AZ

    "Torture, whether it’s slight or not, is a tool for cowards."

    So David (Salinas) – what EXACTLY would you do with enemy combatants?

    If our soldiers were to capture high-value Al Qaeda operatives involved in plans to kill thousands of soldiers and/or innocent citizens. What should we do?

    Play patty cake with them?

    Coercive measures are NOT for the faint of heart – which most liberals are. The terrorists know this and use the "weakness" of Americans against us. Al Qaeda and Islamic extremists would DANCE in the streets if/when a democrat is elected President. Then we can return to the "hands-off" approach embraced during the 90's – giving terrorists more freedom to plot, plan, and kill.

    August 28, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. David, Salinas, CA

    James –

    My position is that of a great American conservative Republican military hero: John McCain. Most military leaders agree with this position, since our actions in violation of law and ethics leave our troops open to such violations. Torture is counterproductive. If you’d study history and psychology rather than taking your moral positions from episodes of “24" you might come to realize this.

    I would question enemy combatants to the fullest extent allowed by the Geneva Convention, Military Code and traditional American morality. I do not and will not condone torture, nor should any American citizen or any decent human being.

    Liberal Christian positions aren’t for the faint of heart, James. It takes courage to turn the other cheek. We both want to fight the terrorists. The difference is: I’m not afraid of them. And I certainly won’t let anything they do change my American values.

    August 28, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  4. Phil Heard, Carrollton, GA

    You mean Hillary actually cares about the law of the land? What about her stand on the 2nd Ammendment?

    August 28, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  5. Brian from Clearwater, fl

    What about giving the eight fired attorneys their jobs back?

    August 28, 2007 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  6. James, Phoenix AZ

    "Liberal Christian positions aren’t for the faint of heart, James. It takes courage to turn the other cheek. We both want to fight the terrorists. The difference is: I’m not afraid of them. And I certainly won’t let anything they do change my American values."

    David,

    A little education for those wanting to cite "Turn the other cheek":

    at the time of Jesus, striking someone deemed to be of a lower class with the back of the hand was used to assert authority and dominance. If the persecuted person "turned the other cheek," the discipliner was faced with a dilemma. The left hand was used for unclean purposes, so a back-hand strike on the opposite cheek would not be performed. The other alternative would be a slap with the open hand as a challenge or to punch the person, but this was seen as a statement of equality. Thus, they argue, by turning the other cheek the persecuted was in effect demanding equality.

    But for those who would cite "turn the other cheek" for why we shouldn't use coercize measures with our enemies...

    Will you "turn the other cheek" if a perv is snatching your child?

    Will you "turn the other cheek" if your spouse is being assaulted?

    Should our soldiers "turn the other cheek" when being attacked by the enemy?

    August 29, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  7. David, Salinas, CA

    James –

    Jesus often spoke in parables. You’ve missed the point of this one.

    August 29, 2007 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  8. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Tom in Dedham, Mass,

    “But you can bet your bottom dollar that they weren't Bill Clinton's secret recipes for chicken a la king.”

    You can bet your bottom dollar that they were COPIES!

    When you can prove they were NOT copies, lemme know. You saying they weren’t isn't PROOF. All your statements as to WHY he took them and rhetorical questions are either just conjecture on your part or lies – making them an unfortunate waste of screen space either way.

    Consider the following per Berger’s Wikipedia entry:

    1) Jerry Seper reported for the Washington Times, in his article "Berger fined for taking papers”, that after a long investigation, the lead prosecutor Noel Hillman, chief of the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section, stated that Berger only removed classified COPIES of data stored on hard drives stored in the National Archives, and that no original material was destroyed. His and the FBI's opinion of the case initially led The Wall Street Journal to editorialize against the allegations.

    Keep in mind this is the PROSECUTOR (the guy on THE OTHER SIDE) who said that.

    2) On December 20, 2006, more than a year after Berger plead guilty and was sentenced, a report issued by the archives inspector stated "There were not any handwritten notes on the documents Mr. Berger removed from the archives. Mr. Berger did not believe there was unique information in the three documents he destroyed. Mr. Berger never made any copies of these documents."

    So much for your “Presumably, notes scribbled on them by the recipients.” theory.

    Could THIS be why he got such a lighter sentence then all you guys wanted?

    HOWEVER, when Berger relinquished his law license as a result of the Justice Department investigation on May 17, 2007, it allowed him to avoid cross-examination by the Bar Counsel regarding specific details of those thefts.

    Even I’ll admit that THAT looks somewhat suspicious. But where you continue to harp on the unknowns, I choose to focus on what we DO know.

    Oh and as far as "looking guilty” and “probably having something to hide" goes, lets consider Dubya shall we? Bush 1) initially fought the creation of a commission to investigate 911 commission, 2) put as many of his cronies on the panel when he couldn’t successfully stop its formation (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,993663,00.html), 3) repeatedly hindered the gathering of information needed to conduct the investigation and 4) NEVER took an oath before giving testimony before said panel.

    Not that Dubya's shenanigans excuses Berger in any way, shape or form for doing something he clearly NEVER should have done in the first place – it’s just something I thought you should know.

    August 29, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  9. Tom Dedham, Mass

    So this guy after a year makes these statements that delve into Bergers thoughts and actions based on what exactly? Where was he a year before?

    "OWEVER, when Berger relinquished his law license as a result of the Justice Department investigation on May 17, 2007, it allowed him to avoid cross-examination by the Bar Counsel regarding specific details of those thefts.

    Even I’ll admit that THAT looks somewhat suspicious. But where you continue to harp on the unknowns, I choose to focus on what we DO know."

    Somewhat suspicious?

    Kool-aid aside here Rick, someone is willing to risk their entire career, money, freedom, prestige etc, etc to steal 5 EXACT copies of a document on terrorism and the who, what and where of Clinton and his cabinet, destroy only 2 of the 5 copies, but return 3 of them and that doesn't look or sound like a coverup to you at all?

    True we don't have ALL the facts here, but Berger had his chance to plead his case and he failed and it had nothing to do with the idiot Bush.

    August 30, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
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