March 14, 2007

Interesting twist on the US Att scandal

I really think that Bush and his people got so used to working without challenge that they did the US Att purge thinking they could get away with it. After all, with the Republicans in charge of the hen house, they have been challenged how many times?

But now there is a new approach and it is causing some problems. And what is more interesting is the reality that following the leads on this purge may lead to other corruption sinkholes. Take the hack friend of Karl Rove's:
Bush's New US Attorney a Criminal? Greg Palast: "But the Committee missed a big one: Timothy Griffin, Karl Rove’s assistant, the President’s pick as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Griffin, according to BBC Television, was the hidden hand behind a scheme to wipe out the voting rights of 70,000 citizens prior to the 2004 election."


Geoff Baggett said...

Didn't clinton have Janet Reno fire all U.S. attorneys after he was elected just to get rid of the one pursuing him in Little Rock?

Was there any "outrage" over that?

Streak said...

Thanks for the comment, Geoff. As I understand it, most Presidents clean house when they take office. I don't think Bush kept Clinton era US Attorneys when he came in, nor would anyone expect him to. That is not and has never been the point. If, in fact, he eliminated that one US Attorney for personal reasons, then that was wrong, though the fact that he fired them all suggests that he was simply doing what other Presidents do.

And btw, if it is as you say, then aren't you simply asserting that it is ok as long as others do it? As long as you can show that Clinton politicized one firing, it then exonerates Bush for firing 8 over suspicious political reasons?

steve s said...

Two wrongs don't make a right. I suppose it depends where the outrage is coming from. If it coming from the democrats, then they are hypocrites, to some degree. If the outrage is coming from the public, then it has more potential for consistency.

Realistically, the US A's work at the behest of the president. If I consistently went against the priorities of my boss, I could expect to lose my job. It would be nice to say the the US A's are independent, but I doubt that it very realistic. I wonder if this is just business as usual.

Streak said...

Steve, not only do I disagree, but I guess I don't understand how that is any different than the old claim that both sides are equally bad. We have no evidence that this is "business as usual." In fact, the REPUBLICANS who were purged here don't think so--nor do former US Attorneys. The only ones saying this is business as usual are Bush apologists.

And I don't think you would expect to lose your job (ethically) if what your Boss expected was unethical or even obstruction of justice. That is what some of the US Attorneys felt when they received those calls.

Make no mistake about it, you are right, and Bush is right that these Attorneys work at Bush's pleasure, but that doesn't mean what he seems to think it means. If those attorneys had been told to pursue drug or terrorism cases and they refused to enforce the law--absolutely. If they ran their offices badly and didn't use resources wisely--absolutely. But what we are learning is that they were fired because they either went after Republican corruption (Carol Lam) or in the case of the Eastern Wash Attorney, refused to prosecute non-existent voter fraud cases.

That is politicizing the justice system. This is more like Nixon and the Sat Night Massacre than anything approaching business as usual.

Balkinization: "What is at stake here? The issue is enormous. It is whether the criminal justice system will be turned into a partisan political tool. Bush's Administration is already widely called a 'hackocracy' because of his tendency to fill slots with unqualified and incompetent partisan hacks. But the crisis at DOJ goes far beyond that. Even civil service positions - which have been protected from this sort of partisan corruption since the Hatch Act of 1939 - are being politicized. The Boston Globe, for instance, has closely documented the process of weeding out qualified career attorneys from the Civil Rights Division at DOJ and their replacement with political retainers - and the same process has continued throughout the Department. But at the heart of the DOJ scandal lies political intrusion into the exercise of prosecutorial discretion - one of the areas which a democratic society most needs to shield from partisan intrusion. There is now clear evidence that Gonzales and Bush directed political prosecutions and attempted to deflect prosecutions of Republicans for political purposes. A state that criminalizes political adversaries and that cloaks the criminal conduct of its retainers is by definition a tyranny. "

steve s said...

Which is why I asked that question. I honestly don't know if this is the status quo. I wasn't trying to be clever.

Apparently, placing yes men and women at the beginning of a presidency is normal. Clinton, Reagan and Bush I fired most of the US A's when they took office and I doubt they filled those poitions with good attorneys from the "other side." I know some US A's. They are skilled, but they get their positions through connections and contributions.

I hope this is investigated fully and if it turns out that there claims are true, I'd like to see Gonzoles resign. OTOH, if this is incompotent, disgruntled employees, then maybe they deserved what they got. I am just a little cautious when it comes to this.

Balkinization is a good site. I'll have to bookmark it. From the comments:

"But the departure from that prudential norm in this, or any, administration is not unlawful (putting to one side whether Congress could by law restrain the President's ability to control U.S. Attorneys). It is unwise and, apparently, unpopular; but not unlawful.

And the unpopularity of Bush/Gonales's actions reveals what may be the answer to the politicization of criminal enforcement--more politics, through reportage, public protest, and oversight from other segments of government and society.

So the problem for the past 6 years is not that Bush has politicized DOJ--it is that Congress, the media, and too-much of the public has failed to pay attention."

As for the comments that you posted, I'll have to look up the Hatch Act, since I don't do much federal law, but IIRC, it dealt with preventing gov't employees from campaigning for a candidate while at work, not for protecting them from political decisions.

Streak said...

I agree, Steve. At least what we know right now, replacing these Attorneys even with political hacks is not illegal, but it certainly is not suggestive of competent or responsible governing.

And I completely agree as well that much of the blame should go to Congress. But this reminds me of a Simpsons episode where Homer tours the Duff brewery. Vats of Duff Light, Ice Duff, and Regular Duff stood in the front room. When the camera panned up, all three came out of the same source.

If we follow the culpability here, it is all back to the particular bunch of people running the GOP right now. They are the ones who gave us 6 years of nearly oversight-free Congress AND gave us the Bush administrations "hackocracy."

steve s said...

Besides Congress, I'd like to see some public pressure and public oversight. That may prevent future presidents from tryng the same shennanigans (St. Patricks Day reference).

Bush certainly would bear some of the blame, though I have never been impressed with Gonzales.