Life Imitates Art
"The cheaper the crook, the gaudier the patter."
My second favorite flick, right behind Casablanca, is The Maltese Falcon. (Okay, I admit it, I have a Bogart fantasy.) I only mention this because that Maltese Falcon roosted right on my frontal lobes when I read this last night:
Justice Department Reopens Probe Into Warrantless Domestic Spying
The Bush administration has reversed course and will now allow a Justice Department inquiry to move forward regarding whether former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other government attorneys acted properly in authorizing and overseeing the administration's domestic warrantless wiretapping program, the Department informed Congress today. President Bush had previously shut down the investigation by taking the extraordinary step of denying investigators security clearances necessary for them to move forward. Bush had intervened to sideline the Justice Department probe despite severe objections of career Justice Department officials..." (Full story)
'Oh my gawd...." I thought to myself, "Bush and Cheney setting Gonzales up as the fall guy for crimes they fear may otherwise end up landing on their doorsteps."
Despite their best efforts to destroy emails and deny congress documents on their warrantless wiretapping sprees, enough has leaked out to provide more than enough reasonable cause for an investigation.
But by throwing Alberto Gonzales to the wolves they might be able to satisfy the Democrats' hunger for a Bush administration trophy while also creating the appearance that the administration really does respect the rule of law. Hanging Gonzales out to dry would let them claim it as proof that "no one is above the law," while leaving Bush and Cheney precisely there.
That's when the closing scenes of The Maltese Falcon popped into my head. If you don't clearly recall the scene, there they were, all the major players, assembled in Sam Spade's livingroom. Wilma- the Fat Man's toady little gofer (played by Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales in my imaginary version below,) is about to be thrown to the wolves as their scheme unravels.
With my apologies to the original screenwriter -- but only the names and few references have been changed. Here's how that scene played out in my ming after reading the story above:
(Location:The Oval Office)
(Characters: Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush and outgoing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.)
(Scene setup:) Gonzales has "resigned" at the request of Cheny and Bush and been replaced by Michael Mukasey. The three are now discussing how best to shield themselves from continuing demands for a full investigation into the administration's domestic wiretapping program.
Cheney: One more thing. We've got to have a fall guy. Congress needs somebody they can pin those illegal wiretaps on.
Bush: Come now Dick, you can't expect us to believe at this late date that you're afraid of Congress or the FBI or that you're not quite able to handle...
Cheney: I'm in this up to my neck. I've got to find somebody, a victim when the time comes. If I don't, I'll be it. Let's give them Fredo (pointing across the room where Gonzales was sprawled on the Oval Office couch.) He actually did approve the wiretaps and he wrote the torture guideline memos, didn't he? Anyway, he's made to order for the part. Look at him! Let's give him to them.
Bush: By gad, sir, you are a character. That you are! There's never any telling what you'll say or do next.....but it's bound to be astonishing.
Cheney: It's our best bet. With him in their hands...
Bush: But, my dear man, can't you see that if I even for a moment... the thought of doing such a thing... That's ridiculous. I feel towards Fredo here just exactly as if he were my own son. Really, I do...... But if I even for a moment thought of doing what you propose....what in the world would keep Fredo from telling every last detail?
Cheney: Let him talk his head off. I'll guarantee you nobody'll do anything about it.
Bush: (Turning to outgoing AG Alberto "Fredo" Gonzales,) Well, what do you think of this, Fredo? Mighty funny, eh?
Gonzales: (Glaring at Cheney) Yeah, mighty funny.
Bush: (turning back to Cheney) Of course, if you're really serious, the least we can do.... in common politeness.... is to hear you out. Now, tell us, how would you be able to fix it so that Fredo couldn't do us any harm?
Cheney: I can show our new Attorney General, Mukasey, that if he goes around...tryin' to collect everybody he'll have a tangled case. But, if he sticks to Fredo here, he can get a conviction standing on his head.
Bush: (turning his back on Gonzales Bush winks at Cheney) Your plan is, not at all satisfactory, sir. Let's not say anything more about it.
Makes one almost feel sorry for Gonzales. Almost. Of course, he should have known that honor among theives simply does not exist. Not even in the movies.