Attorney General Alberto Gonzales learned a lot from the corporate scandals of the past few years. Unfortunately, he learned the wrong stuff. “As we can all imagine in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of the Department of Justice, nor am I aware of all decisions,” he said at a press conference on Tuesday, trying to justify the mess at the Justice Department following the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors.
Sound familiar? It’s the same defense mounted by former Enron exec Ken Lay and Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom, as well as other corrupt executives prosecuted by Gonzales’ Justice Department. So how’d the “I didn’t know, I’m only the CEO” defense work out for them?
It’s pretty audacious to mount the same defense as those your department successfully prosecuted, and expect it to work.
Ironically, at the same press conference, Gonzales compared his department to corporate America: “Like every CEO of every major organization, I am responsible for what happens at the Department of Justice.”
It’s often said that government should be run like business, but not like this.
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