Chertoff Credibility Issues
Cross-posted at my new location, Ohio Daily Blog:
It now appears that the positioning of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff as a nominee to replace Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was a mere feint or ploy, but if Chertoff does become the nominee he will face stiff challenges to his credility. Mark Benjamin writes in Salon today that Chertoff mischaracterized Pentagon interrogation methods in testimony before Congress:
Just as Gonzales, under oath before Congress, failed to recall whether there was dissension within the Bush administration over a controversial war-on-terror-related policy, so Michael Chertoff seems to have suffered a similar lapse of memory while under oath before Congress when pressed on a different terror-related policy. Gonzales pleaded ignorance of a rift within the administration over warrantless wiretapping; Chertoff has denied knowledge of interrogation techniques that are tantamount to torture, despite regular attendance by his top aides at meetings on the subject.In a similar vein, David Fiderer on Huffington Post details false statements by Chertoff in Congressional testimony about Katrina, including referring four times to non-existent newspaper headlines that said 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.'
"If Mr. Chertoff is nominated, the Senate needs to ask him some very tough questions about what he knew about the abuses at Guantánamo," said Hina Shamsi from Human Rights First.
Although Gonzales has been roundly criticized for a variety of failings, the flaw that weighed most heavily in eventually sinking him was his inability to speak plainly and truthfully to Congress. With that backdrop, these credibility issues would almost certainly doom a Chertoff nomination.