An ashen-faced man stood on the curb at 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue holding an umbrella. He scraped the frost from his watch to see that it was nearly 10 pm. A late winter rain was beginning to fall.
A siren gave yelp from around the corner as red and blue streaks splashed off the building’s shiny façade. A trio of Suburbans rolled up and the passenger door of the middle vehicle opened and the man dove in. The motorcade roared off, sirens blaring, leaving the man’s umbrella rolling in a puddle behind them. It didn’t slow down until it reached the Emergency Entrance to George Washington University Hospital some fifteen blocks away.A few minutes later, another motorcade departed a mere four blocks west of the previous one. It too double-parked at the hospital and two men dashed inside. With jaws locked and fists clenched, the groups came face to face at a feeble patient’s bed-side. After a few tense minutes of threats and pointed fingers, Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales departed, defeated.
The bed-ridden man in the middle of the commotion was John Ashcroft, US Attorney General, awaiting surgery for pancreatitis. Behind him was James Comey, acting Attorney General while Ashcroft was incapacitated, and he’d just heroically refused to give the Justice Department’s assent to the President’s 2004 eaves-dropping initiative amid constitutional concerns.Heroics though, are short-lived.
Laws were “adjusted.” And after a private White House meeting, Comey dropped his concerns. His ensuing private career was a charmed one and he was even considered for the Supreme Court before being nominated as head of the FBI. Incidentally, Alberto Gonzales quickly replaced Ashcroft…By June 6, 2013, the 64th anniversary of Orwell’s warning, word had leaked that the question of the warrantless wire-tapping of every American citizen was now beyond debate.