Specter Says Gonzales a ‘Wily Witness’
Arlen Specter says that Alberto Gonzales was intentionally misleading in his testimony before the Senate on the U.S. Attorney firings but that he was merely a “wily witness” rather than a perjurer. TPM‘s Paul Kiel has details:
Reading from a Supreme Court opinion on the statute of perjury, which said that a witness cannot be convicted of perjury simply because he is a “wily witness” who “shrewdly” evades the questioner by speaking “the literal truth,” Specter said that that’s what we have here. Gonzales is certainly “wily” and sought to mislead — but he spoke, in Specter’s judgment, “the literal truth.”
But “just because it’s not perjury,” Specter said, “doesn’t mean it’s the way that the highest ranking legal officer in the United States ought to respond to a Senate inquiry.” Specter went on to say that he thought that the conclusion of the committee’s investigation of the U.S. attorney firings would be to “end the tenure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.” When that conclusion will come, however, no one knows.
I agree with Specter on both counts. Presumably, however, “wily” is being used as a legal term of art here rather than in its common usage meaning “skillful” or “slick.” Bill Clinton was a wily witness; Gonzales is more like Wile E. Coyote.