New York

Gonzales Hearing 10:27 a.m.Saved by the Bell

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What a topsy-turvy world! Arlen Specter should be the nominee for attorney general, and Alberto Gonzales should be some minor aide taking notes for a senator.

First Freudian slip: Specter, a veteran lawyer and prosecutor who has some sense of protecting civil liberties, kicks off the questioning, limited to 10 minutes by each senator, with a grilling that shows how little Gonzales knows.

Gonzales says at one point: “We should always exercise the power of government.” Has he been spending too much time with George W. Bush?

Specter, skeptical about the Patriot Act’s trampling of rights, asks Gonzales why the feds shouldn’t have to show “probable cause” to seize library records. Gonzales’s answer is that, well, the feds have to go before a judge to get the records.

Specter points out that the feds don’t have to show probable cause and that there’s no allowance for a motion to quash or any similar safeguard.

If not for the time limits on questioning, Gonzales would be exposed as the lightest of lightweights.

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