Keeping track of all the scandals and malfeasance that have marked President George W. Bush’s two terms in office can prove rather taxing to even the most vigilant White House watchdog.
Now the online magazine Slate has created a handy visual aide pointing out which administration officials — including Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and scores of others — are implicated in various scandals.
The interactive Venn diagram gives Gonzales top honors as perhaps the most corrupt administration figure. Slate says Gonzales, who was White House counsel before becoming Attorney General, is implicated in all five scandals it studied: coercive interrogation, warrantless wiretapping, Justice Department hiring, Justice Department firing and CIA tapes.
“If this were The Sopranos, he’d be our Silvio,” Slate says, referring to Tony Soprano’s consigliere. (Even within theh White House, Gonzales had his own fictional-mobster-inspired nickname. The president reportedly referred to Gonzales, who had been with Bush since his time as Texas governor, as Fredo, a reference to Michael Corleone’s “weak” and “stupid” younger brother in The Godfather.)
Crimes and Misdemeanors
By Emily Bazelon, Kara Hadge, Dahlia Lithwick, and Chris Wilson
Slate.com, Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008, at 6:55 AM ET
The best way to make sense of this legal tangle is to mouse over the title of an individual scandal, which will highlight everyone implicated. For example, the wiretapping bubble ensnares George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. At the same time, Ashcroft and Gonzales fall into the overlapping circle for monkey business related to DoJ hiring. Mouse over a person’s name for information on how each person is involved. Mouse over the title of each circle for specifics about the particular scandal.
And if all else fails, fall back on this golden rule of wrongdoing in the White House: All roads lead to Gonzales.
Mouse over the scandals, and click on the scandal titles and the names in the diagram for more detailed information.
The Slate reporters find reasons to prosecute both Bush and Cheney. For example, “The president, in his capacity as commander-in-chief of the military, is responsible for the actions of his subordinates who broke the laws.” And, “The vice president and his office have pushed hard for violation of the law, fought to immunize lawbreakers and obstructed inquiries into lawlessness.”
The case against prosecution of both men shares a single source: “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won’t even talk about impeachment.”
In an accompanying article Slate writers Emily Bazelon, Kara Hadge, Dahlia Lithwick, and Chris Wilson say their inquiry was inspired by the disclosures in Jane Mayers’s recent book, The Dark Side, which reported for the first time that the International Committee of the Red Cross determined “categorically” that the CIA had tortured at least one detainee. The writers explained their methodology in creating the diagram.
We looked specifically at the White House, the office of the vice presidency, the Department of Defense, the Justice Department, and the State Department. We started with a question about whether anyone could be prosecuted for war crimes relating to the torture identified by the International Committee of the Red Cross. We soon spiraled out to trace related loops: warrantless wiretapping and the destruction of CIA tapes of the interrogations of two high-level suspects. And then we added in scandals that involve many of the same players and that have spawned investigations: the firing of the U.S. attorneys in 2006 in the Justice Department as well as politicized hirings there. In the main, the laws and treaties we concentrated on were the Geneva Conventions, the War Crimes Act, the Convention Against Torture, obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence, perjury, lying to Congress, the Civil Service Reform Act, and the Hatch Act.